Police are warning the public to be aware of fake Facebook pages set up in the names of NZ companies.
Dozens of people have been scammed and these victims have lost thousands of dollars between them.
Police officers from the Auckland City Financial Crime Unit are currently investigating several complaints from people who have lost money to “retailers” advertising digital and electronic goods online.
The businesses are typically listed on Facebook as having stores located in the lower South Island and usually purport to sell cellphones, laptops and tablets.
The victims are asked to transfer money into a NZ bank account and the goods are never received.
Police are aware of dozens of complaints from people around the country who have lost money to fraudulent Facebook businesses, with tens of thousands of dollars lost collectively to scammers.
As a result of our enquiries, Police have identified that the fraudulent businesses are being run offshore in south east Asia.
The scammer will generally contact someone in New Zealand via Facebook Messenger and offer them a “job” working for them.
The victims will deposit money into this person’s NZ bank account, and the person in NZ is then instructed to transfer the funds into the offshore bank account.
Detective Senior Sergeant Nikki Latimer says Police want to warn people about fraudulent online businesses and caution against the risks of accepting a job online for an unknown company.
“If you are applying for a job through Facebook or Messenger, carry out checks on the company to confirm it is legitimate.
“If the business claims to be New Zealand-based, google the business and contact them via the information on their website. If the contact details are not legitimate or don’t exist then it’s likely to be a scam.
“Likewise if the business offering you a job online is based overseas, or proposing that your bank account be used to process payments – simply avoid it.”
Police warn that anyone knowingly participating in a fraudulent scam such as this risks the possibility of being prosecuted.
Police are also warning the public to carry out due diligence when buying electronic goods from online companies on Facebook and make further enquiries to check they are legitimate to avoid being scammed.
“These businesses may look legitimate on the surface but will typically avoid listing contact phone numbers so there's no one you can actually speak to,” says Detective Senior Sergeant Latimer.
If you think you have been a victim of this or another scam and have lost money, contact your bank in the first instance then report it to Police by phoning 105 or visiting 105.police.govt.nz
Nick Baker/NZ Police