Richard Mark Wallace has been arrested by New Zealand Police last week following numerous complaints of fraudulent Trade Me vehicle sales.
Wallace was arrested on April 12 on 13 counts of fraud after his case appeared on Police Ten-7 on April 6.
At least 16 customers were left out of pocket after paying a 50 per cent deposit to Wallace, who claimed to import cars from Japan.
Trade Me head of trust and safety Jon Duffy said some customers have received partial refunds, but the majority received nothing, and at least $55,000 has been taken.
Wallace, also known as George Auckland, used over 30 different names to defraud customers and several different companies, including ‘I Love Cars’, ‘Maroone Imports’, ‘NZer16’ and ‘Kar Guru NZ’.
Duffy said that Wallace also impersonated other registered dealers and fraudulently used their details on his Trade Me accounts.
Anyone selling a car on Trade Me should have the car in New Zealand, Duffy said. “If the deal seems too good to be true, such as the price for the car is far below market value, then it probably is.”
“Legitimate vehicle traders don’t typically ask for a 50 per cent deposit to help import the vehicle.”
Duffy also warned buyers against transferring money using a system like Western Union, and said to check the car in person before buying it. Refusing a vehicle inspection is a strong indication of suspicious activity.
The Trade Me scam is the latest in a long line of accusations of fraud. Various companies have been linked to Wallace, including American Prestige of New Zealand Inc, American Prestige of Montana LLC, Carrera Marine Holding LLC and American Marine Holdings.
These companies have since been liquidated or shut down.
Between 2008 and 2012, Wallace operated out of Boca Raton, Florida, and Tijuana, Mexico, importing and selling marine equipment, boats and trailers. At least 15 would-be buyers accused Wallace of taking their money and failing to deliver the purchase.
One customer, Jason Cannings, claimed to be $115,000 out of pocket and lodged a complaint with Florida Police.
Wallace will appear in the Auckland District Court on June 6 on 13 counts of obtaining by deception.