An online car dealer who allegedly duped 13 Trade Me customers by posing as legitimate car dealers has been arrested.
Richard Mark Wallace, 59, used numerous aliases including George Auckland.
Trade Me said its customers had allegedly paid about $55,000 in deposits to Wallace on vehicles which they did not receive.
Trade Me head of trust and safety Jon Duffy said Wallace advertised deals on Japanese imported vehicles through classified advertisements on Trade Me and his website, which has been taken down.
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Duffy said Wallace’s alleged practice of using legitimate dealers as a front made it difficult to stop him.
Wallace was arrested in Auckland on April 12.
Trade Me issued a warning on its website two weeks ago and also informed police about Wallace’s activities.
Duffy said this sort of scam was rare, but Trade Me was alerted to Wallace’s activities by compliants from member who had dealt with him.
“The vast majority of vehicle trades go off without a hitch, but there are some things that you need to watch out for. If the deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is,” Duffy said.
“Legitimate vehicle traders don’t typically ask for a 50 per cent deposit to help import the vehicle.”
Duffy said customers should seek a second opinion before signing a contract relating to vehicle imports.
Wallace is due to reappear in the Auckland District Court on June 6 on 13 counts of obtaining by deception.