Facebook has basically taken over the digital marketplace for buying and selling used items (something that Craigslist used to dominate). But even though it’s super accessible, there are some major Facebook Marketplace scams that buyers and sellers each need to be aware of.
FB Marketplace has become super popular because of the easy app for listings and browsing, as well as the ability to reach a larger audience. It is also thought to be safer than Craigslist because of the fact that you need a Facebook account to use the marketplace and personal information doesn’t have to be given out in the listings. Plus, communication is done strictly through Facebook Messenger.
But is Facebook Marketplace really safer? Unfortunately, no. One would only hope that anyone with a Facebook account would be a real person with good intentions. Like anything online though, where there is an opportunity for deceit, it will be taken by scammers. According to Web Tribunal, over one billion people use Facebook Marketplace each month. This makes it a great target for scammers and, of course, they do use it.
However, even with all of the potential scams, there are some best practices that you can employ that will help to safeguard you from being tricked. Knowing what scams are out there and how to avoid them you can definitely arm yourself against fraud. Here are the top 15 Facebook Marketplace scams that you will need to watch out for.
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Facebook Marketplace Scams for Buyers To Be Aware Of
Most of these scams can be avoided simply by transacting in person for local items and using “Facebook Marketplace checkout” for long-distance purchases that require shipping.
1. Listings for Nonexistent Items
Scammers with fake accounts will list an item for sale that doesn’t actually exist. Usually, it will be at a price lower than what you would expect. Once they get you excited about it and you send them money, the item is never delivered.
2. Wanting Payment Sent Directly to Their Bank Account
Typically, when you buy something on Facebook Marketplace, it will be from a local seller. You can then meet in person and pay by check or cash when picking up the item. However, it is also possible to buy from a seller that is not local. For these transactions, online payments can be made using “Facebook checkout” which is secure and covered by Purchase Protection.
A seller should not ask you to make a payment directly to their bank account and this should be a warning to the buyer. Once they have your money directly in their account, you will have no recourse when it is done outside Facebook.
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3. Bait and Switch
Some scammers will try to get your attention with an unusually low-priced item. Once you express interest, they will tell you it’s unavailable but they have another similar item that is priced much higher. Their thought is to get the communication started and then sell you on the higher-priced item.
4. Requesting an Advance Payment
A fake seller may ask that you send them a deposit for the item that you are after because it is showing so much interest. They will list it at a too-good-to-be-true price that a buyer would not want to miss out on. Meanwhile, they can ask multiple would-be buyers to send a deposit and no one actually receives the item.
5. Offering Giveaways
One way that Facebook Marketplace scammers try to get your personal information is to post a giveaway for a desirable item. Once you enter the personal details required for the giveaway, they have your information for sending you malware and viruses.
6. Listings for Fraudulent Rentals
There are quite a few different scams for apartment or housing rentals on Facebook Marketplace. The biggest problem is requiring bogus background check fees or a deposit to hold the rental. Watch out for places that have rental rates that are lower than average or listings that show beautiful pictures but don’t have the ability to give you a tour before needing a deposit or any other fee. It’s best to see a place in person before putting down any money, even if it can’t be the exact unit.
7. Selling Items That Are Not How They’re Described
There are sellers out there who will be anything but honest about the condition of the item they are selling. They may even provide fake pictures. Once you receive the item, it can be too late. Avoid this from happening by transacting in person or through Facebook’s checkout. Although the purchase protection that you get through Facebook is helpful, it’s still going to be a hassle to deal with.
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8. Desire To Communicate Outside of Facebook
The safe way to communicate with sellers is through Facebook Messenger which is monitored. Scammers will want to be able to communicate in another way that is not monitored. Doing so gives them more of an opportunity to trick a potential buyer. What you might not detect as a scam, Facebook could.
9. Requiring Deposits for Vehicles
More and more vehicles are being sold on Facebook Marketplace. With the shortage of vehicles from dealers, people are turning to the Marketplace for used car deals. If you are requested to make a deposit for a vehicle ahead of time, it should raise a red flag. These scammers will also provide a fake address for looking at or picking up the vehicle.
10. Google Voice Scam
A Google voice scam can be done by scammers posing as either buyers or sellers. Ironically, they will contact you about their concern for scammers and want to verify that you are a real person. Then, they will send you a message with a Google Verification code and ask you for the code. If you give them the code, they’ll try to use your number to create a Google Voice number. Once this is done, they have the ability to scam other people and conceal their identity.
11. Charging a Shipping Insurance Fee
A seller may demand that a buyer pay an extra fee like for shipping insurance. You should never have to pay any extra fees when purchasing through Facebook Marketplace.
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Facebook Marketplace Scams for Sellers To Be Aware Of
12. Buyer Is Willing To Send Extra Money
Just the thought of a buyer who is willing to send extra money should be a red flag. To start with, they will want to pay with Venmo or another cash app. They will communicate that they tried making their payment of, say $50, but Venmo sent them an email saying your personal Venmo account is limited and needs to be upgraded to a business account. To do that supposedly requires a minimum balance of $250 for this business account.
To make this more convincing, the buyer will send you a fake Venmo email that requests you to upgrade your account with a deposit of, say $200, and wants you to request that money from the buyer. The fake email states that once your account shows $250 and you refund the buyer the $200, you’ll have access to your $50. And wow! The buyer agrees to do that.
You then get another fake email from Venmo saying that the extra $200 was received in your account so you can make the refund. Unfortunately, the email is fake and you don’t really have that money. The buyer ends up with the $200 from your very real account and then disappears.
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13. Buyer Uses a Stolen Credit Card for Payment
Although Venmo is easy for both buyers and sellers and is used frequently without any issues, you may want to switch to using Facebook’s checkout to protect yourself. A buyer could have a stolen credit card linked to their Venmo account. After the stolen card is reported, the transaction gets reversed and you are out both the money and the item that you sold. The safer options include only accepting cash payments in person or using Facebook’s checkout.
14. Buyer Sends You a Prepaid Shipping Label
A buyer claims to have a preferred shipping method and sends you their prepaid shipping label. The problem is that since they provided the label, you don’t have the tracking information. When a buyer then calls to say they didn’t receive the package, you aren’t able to prove that they didn’t and will be required to send a refund.
15. Wanting Shipment Before Payment
Just like sellers that request payment before shipping, a buyer could also request shipment before payment. This, of course, is never a good idea. The buyer could back out of the deal after receiving the package.
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