Second-Hand Mobiles Pose Fraud Risk – Warns TCF and Police

Dec 18, 2017

The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) and NZ Police are warning consumers about the dangers of buying second-hand phones online this summer.

“Every year, around Christmas time, we see a lot of second-hand mobile phones flood onto the market, as people get given new devices for Christmas” says Geoff Thorn CEO of the TCF. “The majority of these devices are from genuine sellers, but it’s also the time of year our members see an increase in the number of fraudulent devices coming on to the market.”

The TCF recently ran a fun, informative quiz for consumers called Test Your Telco IQ. Over 35% of consumers who have completed the quiz believe that buying a second-hand cell phone online, from sites such as Facebook, is safe. “This is simply not true” says TCF CEO Geoff Thorn. “Even if you check the serial number to make sure it’s not listed as stolen, there are no guarantees.”

“Purchasing second-hand goods online always comes with an element of risk,” says Detective Senior Sergeant Bridget Doell from Auckland City Police.

“We know that it’s common for criminals to sell items – that have been stolen through thefts and burglaries – online through community pages on websites such as Facebook. If someone is selling a new iPhone for a significantly cheaper price online, then clearly that is going to look suspicious. Remember the old adage, if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.”

“Police would also like to remind the community that it is an offence to knowingly receive stolen goods and we encourage anyone who suspects that items listed for sale may be stolen goods, to report the matter to Police by contacting your nearest police station,” says Detective Senior Sergeant Doell.

The telco industry works together to prevent criminals profiting from phone theft, by blacklisting devices that have been lost, stolen or obtained through fraud. Blacklisted devices will no longer work on any New Zealand mobile network.

The TCF runs a free look-up service, so consumers can check the serial number of a handset to see whether it has been blacklisted, before purchasing it. While over 90% of lost or stolen phones are blacklisted almost immediately, and listed as such on the lookup service; phones obtained and sold through fraudulent activities can be blacklisted at a later date, so the service is not fool proof.

In addition to the risks of fraud when buying second-hand mobiles, all handsets purchased from a telco will be tested to provide a great experience on the NZ mobile networks, while second-hand or parallel imported handsets are not guaranteed to perform as well, and consumer rights such as warranties and faulty product protection are harder to enforce in private sales.

“Over 35% of the population willing to buy a second-hand phone online, from a complete stranger, is of concern” says Mr Thorn. “We’d like to ensure New Zealand consumers are aware of the risks involved with private trading of mobile devices, and consider those factors before deciding where to purchase their next handset.”

To check the status of any mobile on the New Zealand network, visit:


For more information, please contact: Geoff Thorn, TCF, CEO

Ph: +64 21 937 920 | Email: | Twitter: @TCFNZ

For media enquiries contact
Paul Brislen.

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