Police hunt $30k Trade Me scam artist

ROB KIDD
Last updated 16:03 08/01/2013
Joshua Calthorpe
WANTED: Joshua Calthorpe.

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Police are hunting an alleged fraudster who is believed to have stolen $30,000 from Trade Me users.

East Auckland man Joshua Calthorpe, 32, is wanted on 19 fraud charges and has had warrants out for his arrest since September.

Counties Manukau police said Calthorpe targeted Trade Me users who left their contact details in the 'Q and A' section of auctions.

He then sent texts or emails to them posing as the seller from the auction they expressed interest in and would offer them a seemingly great deal, provided it was completed outside Trade Me so they avoided site's fees.

Detective Constable Ali Ramsay said the "recidivist offender" was actively avoiding police and had connections across the wider Auckland area.

Calthorpe appeared in a Trade Me blog post from before Christmas and Trade Me's trust and safety manager Jon Duffy said he was one of the most prolific offenders in the history of the website.

Though it was users who were at fault for being drawn into the scam, Duffy said it was still damaging to the brand to be connected with them.

Calthorpe was banned from Trade Me in 2009 after not delivering goods he was "selling" but Duffy said that had not stopped him.

He said the key message to users was to conduct all business through the site.

Anyone with information on Calthorpe's whereabouts is asked to contact Detective Constable Ali Ramsay or Detective Sergeant Dave Honiss at Manurewa CIB on (09) 261 1300 or Crimestoppers anonymously on (0800 555 111).

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- Auckland Now

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