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Facebook scams and Trade Me - how do they work?

The ins and outs of how scammers use Facebook and Trade Me

By Trade Me 5 February 2021

Stay one step ahead of the scammers

Facebook is an amazing phenomenon, there's no doubt about that.

1.55 billion active monthly users, and more than 1 billion of those log in every day.  

We use it to catch up with old friends and new friends, and recently even get in touch with locals through community pages where we can buy and sell, or even find employment.

While there are many wonderful aspects to connecting with a cyber community, the downside remains a constant threat: you often don’t actually know these people. 

Facebook scammers: they’re awfully good at what they do

There are people from all over the world whose full time job (yes, they get paid) is to scam you.

These people specifically create Facebook profiles with photos of “them” playing with their kids, off on holiday; basically everything they can think of to get you to relax into thinking “they are just like me, obviously a local, a real person, and worthy of my trust”.

How do they go about scamming people?

Let’s run through a common scenario.

On a Facebook “odd jobs” page for a local area (e.g. Queenstown, Horowhenua, or an Auckland suburb), someone who seems local advertises for a bit of help.

They’re say they’re really busy and they need someone trustworthy to do some of the online jobs they’re too busy for. They then ask you to message them for more details.

You think to yourself “I could use a bit of extra money, I’m trustworthy, where is the harm?”

So you message them, and it turns out they say there’s quite a bit of money in this for you.

Be warned, it's a classic job scam.

They need to sell a brand new iPhone on Trade Me, but don’t have the time, or maybe something happened to their membership. Perhaps they’re even on holiday at the moment, and need it gone pronto. 

They say that all you have to do is either create a new membership on Trade Me (or use your established one), list this iPhone for them (they’ll even tell you what to write) and if Trade Me asks for proof of possession, they’ll even give you the photos to show they’re real. 

Simple right?

Just sell the phones on this person’s behalf, give their bank account for the Trade Me buyer to pay it into, and when the money comes through, they will give you a third of the profit. 

What could possibly go wrong?

Unfortunately as a few people have found out recently; lots can go wrong.

These people are scammers whose full time job is to defraud people.

You don’t know them, and they are not who they’re claiming to be.

There is no phone, the money will never be given to you, and you’ve just committed fraud, under your own name and details.

You’ll be liable and will most likely lose your Trade Me membership.

What should I do if this happens to me?

If it seems too good to be true, it often is.

 If you see these types of ads/Facebook posts floating around, you should report them to Facebook.

If you’ve already listed an item for one of these people, please get in touch as soon as possible – we’re here to help. 

Creative Commons image used courtesy Janitors on Flickr.