Businesses are being warned their insurance may not cover them for losses resulting from online marketplace scams.
In a recent case investigated by the Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme, a business owner identified only as Ajay sold some car parts on behalf of his company, including a gearbox and motor, clutch and aluminium radiator.
The items were listed on Facebook Marketplace, where someone agreed to buy them for $10,000.
A few days later, the buyer said payment had been made, and sent a copy of a New Zealand driver’s licence which he said belonged to his partner.
A woman claiming to be the buyer’s sister arrived at the company’s premises and collected the items.
However, payment had not been made. When Ajay realised this, he filed a police report and made an insurance claim on behalf of the company.
The insurer declined Ajay’s claim because of the fraud exclusion, which stated that “loss caused by… any… false pretence practised on you” was not covered.
Ajay complained to IFSO, which looked at the police report, and found the incident had been classified as “Obtaining by deception (Over $1000)” and was headed “FB MP [Facebook Marketplace] Fraud $10,000”.
The scheme found this was sufficient evidence that the items had been obtained by the buyer under a false pretence, and the insurer could rely on the exclusion to decline the claim.
Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman Karen Stevens says while that's bad news for Ajay, it's a good reminder for businesses to be wary of scams and to make sure they verify payment before handing over any items.
“Business insurance policies often contain fraud exclusions. This means if someone has been duped into handing over items, the usual cover for lost or stolen items doesn’t apply.
“Things like Facebook Marketplace scams have increased in the past few years, meaning there’s a real risk to businesses if they aren’t alert and vigilant when selling items.”
From April 1 to June 30 this year, 24 per cent of incidents reported to government cyber-security agency Cert NZ related to online scams and fraud.
Of the 474 incidents reported, 243 involved someone being scammed when buying, selling or donating goods online.
Although that was a 31 per cent decrease from the previous quarter, it's still the largest category of scams and fraud.