Police warn buyers after suspiciously cheap smokes offered on Facebook

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Police say people buying suspiciously cheap cigarettes online are risking prosecution after a post selling such products appeared in an Auckland trading group - with no shortage of buyers.

A post was made last night about 7pm to the closed 'Buy/Sell/Trade in Auckland' group offering cigarettes and after attracting almost 100 comments from interested buyers.

Screenshot images of a post offering suspiciously cheap cigarette in an Auckland Facebook trading group

Screenshot images of a post offering suspiciously cheap cigarette in an Auckland Facebook trading group.

Source: 1 NEWS

"Any1 after some Ciggys? No times waters [sic] plz & prices are firm," the post read.

Interested buyers were invited to privately message the seller, who also commented that they had received so many queries "I just can't keep up".

"My inbox just went crazy, and my notifications blew up," the seller wrote when buyers complained about not receiving a response.

When questioned about the origin of the cigarettes, the seller said they had recently sold their dairy business and wanted to liquidate the stock.

Buyers didn't seem to care about where the cigarettes came from, with one commenting "cheap smokes I'm in".

The group and others like it appear to frequently be used to sell tobacco products at low prices.

Screenshot images of a post offering suspiciously cheap cigarette in an Auckland Facebook trading group

Screenshot images of a post offering suspiciously cheap cigarette in an Auckland Facebook trading group.

Source: 1 NEWS

On November 14, a member posted asking for "cheap smokes near manurewa please!" and was offered 50g pouches of Winfield Red for $50 each - well below the approximate retail of $73.50 from Countdown, or even the duty free price of $53.50 from Jr Duty Free.

'Subject of police interest'

Inspector Neil McCrae of the Police National Prevention Centre warned buyers that they can face legal action for buying these products.

"Anyone involved with the illegal selling or buying of tobacco or other products is likely to find themselves the subject of Police interest," he said.

"Online sales and friends of offenders are among a number of avenues through which stolen cigarettes might be disposed of.

"Police would like to remind members of the public that purchasing cigarettes they know are stolen can result in prosecution."

Inspector McCrae said regular tobacco thefts and the subsequent onsale has now become "a real concern" for Police this year, and that police are actively working with retailers on ways to make their premises more secure against such robberies.

Gull will now be putting its cigarettes in a safe that only dispenses one packet at a time.
Source: 1 NEWS

In October, Gull became the first service station to install anti-theft cigarette dispenser technology due to the high number of robberies that were taking place targeting tobacco products.

TradeMe has banned the listing of tobacco on its site, as the advertisement and sale of such products contravenes the Smokefree Environments Act 1990.

The maximum penalty for knowingly receiving stolen goods under the value of $500 is 3 months in prison.

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