FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Scam?
It's a scheme designed to separate an honest trader from their cash. There are a number of types of scam, but the most common is the failure to deliver the goods. In this scam the scammer takes the money and runs, there are usually no goods to deliver. These people are criminals trading on the trust and honesty of good kiwi citizens. The ScamBusters want to make it so difficult for scammers to perpetrate their crimes that they will move to easier targets and leave New Zealanders in peace to enjoy their auction sites.
Can I Become A ScamBuster?
Yes. New ScamBusters are always welcome. We believe you should be an active trader on the site you are scambusting on. You need an enquiring mind, some time to put towards this activity and of course a desire to learn the skills of spotting scams. To find out what to look for search the internet under Internet Auction Fraud or download the free ebook from this site. You should also ask questions and watch the discussions in the ScamBusters forums.
What Skills Does a ScamBuster Need?
You need to be a bit of a detective to uncover some scams. Others are so obvious that once seen, you will recognise the signs when you see them again. Also, because scams come in such a wide variety, a knowledge of the signs of the less common types is handy.
Why were the ScamBusters banned from the TM message boards?
You would need to ask TradeMe that question. It appeared that TradeMe did not want the word "scam" used on their site for fear that it might damage their brand. And for a while, traders were actually banned from the messageboard simply for using the "S" word. Thankfully that level of paranoia seems to have largely disappeared at TM HQ.
Did the bannings affect future scams?
The increasing popularity of this site eventually negated TradeMe's silly actions. While TradeMe have generally relaxed their (bad) attitude towards the reporting of scams, we believe that the bannings did make the site less safe as new traders were not being alerted to the signs of scams. Without knowledge, the worthwhile Community Watch initiative loses it's effectiveness. "If you don't know something is amiss, why would you complain?"
Scams Are A Small Crime; Why Be Concerned?
We know that there are reported scam losses every day on New Zealand's most popular auction site. This is just the reported losses. How many traders who are too ashamed to admit being taken is not known. We received reports that in some urban areas Police refuse to accept reports of TM scams under $400. The figures soon add up and over the course of a year the total losses to TM scams are huge. If you think this is a small crime, please forward your donation to the parties who have suffered.
Who Gets Scammed?
New Zealanders, folks just like you. Those most at risk are the less experienced traders, but even experienced traders can fall foul of these people. In a recent case a trader who thought a scammer who offered to send goods before payment was made could not possibly con the trader. It was pointed out via the message boards that there is a very well known scam method (Triangulation) for the scammer to get funds from the victim in this case, and Internet Fencing was also a possibility. Needless to say the trader heeded the advice and did not lose any money.
Why Not Leave This To The Auction Site?
It would give the ScamBusters great pleasure to be "out of a job". We believe that TM could make our role redundant by instituting two security measures, IP Lookup and Address Verification for overseas traders. However, until these or other effective measures are instituted we see the real risk of Kiwis being duped out of their hard earned cash. We feel that looking the other way when we see a crime in progress is not the way responsible citizens act. Time and again traders have reported they have been saved from scams in progress by the advice they have sought from the ScamBusters via the ScamBusters' Forums.
Why Was This Site Started?
This website is the direct result of the administration team of the most popular New Zealand auction site preventing concerned folks from helping their fellow traders to avoid auction scams. You would need to ask the site's administration why they took that step. A more reasoned approach would have been to embrace the help being offered, to make scamming a more difficult crime to commit, and to trumpet this fact as another reason to trade on the site. Sadly, with many corporate entities, the desire to make profit often overrides community spirit.