Facebook crime is on the police radar. Photo: Supplied.

Rise of Facebook crime worries police


Facebook crime in Nelson is on the rise with more people being scammed from the social media network as it morphs into a trading platform.

Admin for a local buy and sell Facebook page, Rachel Ratcliffe, says that it gives more freedom to commit offences than any other site.

“In comparison to TradeMe, where you need to give personal information to set up an account and there are set repercussions for a bad trade, on Facebook it’s not hard to set up a false account, steal another’s identity, block people and effectively disappear.”

Lachlan Banks was recently scammed out of $750 when he attempted to purchase a piece of machinery from a man who claimed to be in Collingwood.

Lachlan says, after negotiating on price and freight he was happy to proceed with the sale.

“I deposited the money in July and the thing never turned up. He told me his son took it to Hamilton and dropped it at the courier and he doesn’t know what happened to it.”

“I said surely they must have given you a record of it, but I heard nothing.”

He says, after doing further research, he is sure the man is a scam artist.

“My wife has looked into him a bit more and he’s got things for sale all over the place, right across the North Island, he’s also got different profiles that he uses.”

Lachlan says Nelson Police say there’s not much they can do, and his best option is to get in touch with Facebook, but he hasn’t heard anything back from them since he made the complaint almost a week ago.

New Zealand Police supervisor of cybercrime investigations, Detective Sergeant Damian Rapira-Davies, says that the variables with a platform like Facebook are not well documented so it’s hard to progress a case.

“Often people think it’s as simple as reporting it to the police and they get their money back, but it’s what we can prove, not what we know.”

He says that, naturally, with the rise of social media users the risks also increase and warns that if something looks to good too be true it usually is. “A platform like Facebook has anonymity and a number of traders are drawn because they need that anonymity, they don’t want to be tracked back.”

He says a lot of these types of crimes can be prevented.

“Look closely at the profile, are there things about it that don’t make sense? When was it set up? Is someone selling an iPhone 10 for $400 and is that an indication you should perhaps stay clear of it?”