Parents are being warned to stay vigilant of a Facebook scam that's been doing the rounds on several buy/swap/sell pages.
A man has been offering free passes to Waimarino Adventure Park, but only to people with children – and only if he can visit their house to drop the tickets off.
Concerned parent Meagan McIlroy-Hoff says she was messaged by the man – ‘Tom Matthews' – after responding to his post offering the free tickets on the ‘Buy Swap Sell Tauranga/Mount' Facebook group.
“He private messaged me within minutes after I put my name up for the tickets,” she says.
“Then he asked who I would take and what their ages were.”
He then offered to drop the tickets around to Meagan's home, but she refused. After some more back-and-forth – in which he claimed the tickets were part of a Nickelodeon promotion – Meagan eventually agreed to pick the tickets up at a McDonald's.
When she said she planned on checking with the manager of Waimarino first, however, Tom admitted the tickets were fake.
Meagan says his account has since been deleted, but she thinks it was probably fake as well.
“His page said he worked for McDonald's and Footlocker, but there wasn't a lot of information. I think it was probably a bogus account.”
After her dealings with Tom, Meagan posted their Facebook conversation publicly, along with a warning about his behaviour.
A screenshot of the last part of Meagan's conversation with ‘Tom'.
She says others in the buy/swap/sell group began sharing their own run-ins with the same guy.
“There were people who didn't have children, and as soon as they said they didn't have any he would stop communicating and block them,” says Meagan.
“Some people also said they had seen a similar thing on a Taupo page for DeBretts, which is a water park down there.”
The biggest concern for Meagan is how insistent he was on dropping the tickets around to her house.
“He's trying to get your address, and that combined with ‘do you have kids' is a massive red flag to me.”
Waimarino Adventure Park manager Charlotte Anderson says they've reported incidents like this to police before.
“It's been a while now, but we've had this happen before. A couple of months ago we reported a guy to police for doing this sort of thing. But we always recommend people to give us a call first so we can confirm whether tickets are valid.”
Police advise whenever purchasing goods online, there is a risk the person selling the goods is not who or what they say they are.
“Many online retailers and auction sites operate a trust system to help the public identify who is and who is not verified and/or reliable,” says a police spokesperson.
“Those sites also often have their own trust and safety staff who can provide advice and assistance in dealing with suspicious dealers. New Zealand online trading sites also work with police to deal with fraud and stolen goods sold on their sites. However, there will always be some people who try to use online sites to scam and rip people off for money so care must always be taken.
“If you are concerned about safety during a face to face meeting or trade always tell someone where you are going and who you are meeting or take someone with you. Likewise, if you are the seller and are concerned about the buyer, you may want to meet in a public place rather than behind closed doors.”