Varun Oberoi was upset to see his phone for sale on Facebook after the purchaser misled him about payment.
A flurry of scams on Facebook Marketplace has prompted a reminder to take care when trading on the social media giant’s site.
Data from Cert NZ shows a 25 per cent increase in the number of cybersecurity incidents reported in January to March compared with the same time last year. There were more than 1400 recorded.
Of the 451 reports of scams and fraud incidents reported over this period, 8 per cent involved Facebook Marketplace.
Auckland man Varun Oberoi had his phone stolen by a person he met on Facebook Marketplace, who used a fraudulent bank statement to trick Oberoi into thinking he had paid for it.
Oberoi was surprised to see the stolen phone listed again on Facebook later that day.
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“I had kept my receipt which had the barcode number on it, so I knew it was the same phone. I used a different Facebook account to arrange to buy the phone and meet the thief.”
At the meeting Oberoi took photos of the alleged scammer, who then fled. He then posted them to Facebook, warning others of the scam. The alleged scammer got in touch to offer to pay back the value of the phone, if he agreed to take down the photos.
While Oberoi got his money back, others were not so lucky.
Sarah Martin in Nelson fell victim after paying for a Crown Lynn hand-potted vase that never turned up.
“[The scammer] knew what she was talking about. It wasn’t too cheap or too expensive. She told me that she was selling on behalf of her Nana who was going into a care home.”
When the vase did not arrive, Martin searched again on Facebook.
She found that not only was the vase listing still online, it was listed across different buy and sell pages a total of 18 times.
“I know I lost my money, but I want this information to get out there. There needs to be a change. If you have committed fraud on Facebook, you should be banned for life.”
Senior Sergeant Alan Rowland, of Auckland City Police said it was not uncommon.
“It occurs with cell phones, vehicles, electronics and other goods sold on Facebook Marketplace.”
Police advised against buying and selling on social media, Rowland said.
Martin Cocker, chief executive of Netsafe said the issue was that people saw Facebook Marketplace as something “quite different to what it is”.
“Facebook Marketplace is a classified advertising site. All that Facebook marketplace is doing is providing a place to put up an ad. Many New Zealanders will be used to the systems behind an e-commerce site like TradeMe, but Facebook is not the same,” said Cocker.
When users assumed there was more security than there was, it could lower their defences against scammers, Cocker said.
“It is absolutely a buyer-beware environment. Users should enter into every exchange on the platform with that in mind.”
A Facebook company spokesperson told Stuff: “The issue of scams and fraud is not unique to Facebook – it has plagued the internet for years. We do not allow scams on our services, and we take action to remove them as soon as we become aware.
“We encourage people to report this behaviour when they see it.”