A 55-year-old Hastings woman has been duped into handing over $544 in an internet scam while using Facebook.

The woman responded to messages on her Facebook page saying she had won $500,000 in a Facebook sweepstake.

She paid the $544 "handling fee" into a Western Union transfer account expecting to receive the prize money, but only received further requests for money.

Hastings Police are warning internet users to be cautious of such offers over the internet.

Senior Sergeant Luke Shadbolt said the international scams used untraceable internet accounts and could be accessed through any Western Union office around the world. Many of the scams originated from Africa or Asia and the individuals involved were rarely identified.

"Don't be tempted by offers of easy money," he said. "The simple fact is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."