Trust & Safety Blog

Facebook scams and Trade Me – how do they work?

Iphone -screen

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 give our Site Policing team a call on 0800 334 332 as soon as possible – we’re here to help.

Unfortunately this is not the only kind of scam out there, be wary of these scams too!

Creative Commons image used courtesy Janitors on Flickr. 

Puppy love – how to avoid being puppy scammed


Nothing tugs on the heart strings like cute baby animals, and puppies are sure to melt even the iciest of hearts.

With the Christmas rush upon us and little Timmy aching for that fluffy companion (let’s be honest, you’ve always harboured a secret desire for a Bichon Frise like your folks have), you’re left with the perfect conditions to extend your family with an ever-enthusiastic, canine buddy.

Sadly, there are those that prey on our love for puppies.

Considering that some breeds can fetch upward of $3,000, puppy scamming can be an incredibly lucrative enterprise.

To ensure your Christmas stays fun, furry, and stress-free, here are a few tips to help you stay safe from puppy scammers this season.

Scammers are pure-breed enthusiasts

Fancy a French bulldog? Hankering for a Husky? Chomping-at-the-bit for a Chihuahua?

Puppy scammers mostly go for purebreds, not just because they can be some of the cutest pups, but also because they usually carry a heftier price tag.

Purebreds are less common, and basic supply/demand dictates that, as a scammer, listing these breeds will likely put you in touch with more motivated buyers.

Scammers use Google too

Are photos of the seller’s litter looking a bit more professional than expected?

Try a reverse image search.

If you’re using Google Chrome, simply right-click on the picture and select ‘search Google for image’. Scammers will regularly use stock Google images or even photos from legitimate, unaffiliated kennels when looking to create a fake listing.

If you get a hit that doesn’t line up, be sure to let us know via Community Watch.

Be mindful of the oldest tricks in the book

Ever heard a salesman say “I only have one left” or “I have lots of other interested buyers, so you better act now”?

Questions like these are designed to pressure you into making a decision without taking the time to think things through.

While it’s common for puppies to sell quickly and sellers to list with a ‘first come, first served’ disclaimer, don’t hand over any cash until you’re satisfied the person you are dealing with is legit.

Take the time to do your due diligence

Getting a puppy is a big commitment, one which will have significant impact on your life.

This is not a decision that should be rushed, so be sure to take your time and ask yourself if you (and Timmy) are ready for the responsibility of owning a pup.

We provide a helpful buyer’s checklist at the bottom of every puppy listing description, so if you’re having trouble weighing things up, be sure to give it a read.

Get to know the seller, their breeding practices and the temperament of their dogs.

For example: is this their first ever litter? Make sure to check their feedback, as this is often a good indicator of a member’s behaviour and/or integrity.

Have a read of our Code of Animal Welfare and check to see whether the seller is complying.

If you’d like to know more animal welfare, check out our help page on animal welfare.

Most of all, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

At the end of the day, if you aren’t comfortable, hang on to your cash. If you think you’ve got a scammer on your hands, please report the listing to us through the Community Watch link on the bottom of the listing page so that we’re aware of the member and can take action.