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Did You Get Scammed On Facebook Marketplace?

Facebook's Purchase Protection policy and Seller Protection policy are handy if you suspect a scam. Also follow these steps below.

Facebook's Purchase Protection policy and Seller Protection policy are handy if you suspect a scam. Also follow these steps below.

facebook marketplace scams

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      Why Scammers Target Facebook Marketplace

      Facebook Marketplace allows buyers and sellers to make transactions using their Facebook profiles. Much like Craigslist and eBay, however, Facebook Marketplace's large community, the ease of creating fraudulent profiles, and the lack of buyer and seller vetting make it attractive for scammers.

      Between October and December of 2023, Facebook took action on nearly 700 million fake accounts, approximately 4% of the monthly active users [*].

      Whether it's a listing scam to steal your money or a phishing scam to swipe your information, the most common Facebook Marketplace scams share these red flags. 

      Top Red Flags:

      • Seller offers suspiciously low prices for high-ticket items.
      • Seller refuses to meet in person.
      • Buyer or seller tries to take the conversation outside of Facebook Messenger.
      • Buyer sends you prepaid shipping labels.
      • Buyer overpays for a product.
      • Buyer or seller asks for your phone number.
      • Buyer requests a verification code, such as a Facebook or Google Voice account code.
      • Seller profile doesn’t include a photo.
      • Buyer or seller has a relatively new account and profile.
      • Seller wants you to pay with a gift card.
      • Buyer insists on paying with checks or money orders.

      Ultimately, the golden rule of shopping safely on Facebook Marketplace is that if a transaction seems unsafe or too good to be true, it probably is.

      📚 Related: The 11 Latest Facebook Scams You Didn't Know About (Until Now)

      Facebook Marketplace Scams That Target Buyers

      Consumers reported losses of over $390 million to online shopping scams in 2023, as per the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [*]. As you browse for your next purchase, keep an eye out for these buyer scams on Facebook Marketplace:

      Fake seller accounts

      Fraudsters create fake Facebook accounts to list items at appealing prices to capture your interest. Once you agree on a price and pay, however, the items never arrive.

      The fake account might have belonged to a real person at one point. It may have also been stolen — like the Michigan woman who found out her account was hacked when buyers clamored to pick up furniture that they allegedly bought from her [*].

      As a defense, Facebook advises you to be cautious with too-good-to-be-true deals, and have your items in hand before completing a transaction [*].


      Changing the transaction (“bait and switch”)

      Also known as the “bait and switch” method, this scheme involves scammers selling an item and then changing the sale conditions at the last minute. They up the price, exchange the item for an inferior product, or upsell to a more expensive item.

      If you encounter inconsistent pricing or descriptions, regard this as a red flag and walk away from the deal.

      📚 Related: Avoid These 8 eBay Gift Card Scams At All Costs

      Offering giveaways that are too good to be true

      Facebook Marketplace scammers may use giveaways to steal your information or convince you to click on malicious links. In some cases, they steal your money by asking that you cover the shipping of a free luxury item.

      That's what happened to a New York writer when she agreed to send her information and pay the shipping fees for a free grand piano that never arrived [*].

      Here are some of the warning signs she missed: 

      • Spelling and grammar mistakes in the giveaway.
      • Requests to send personal information or pay a fee.
      • Urgency to move the scam along quickly.

      📚 Related: How To Track Down Someone Who Scammed You

      Selling faulty or poor-condition items

      To avoid buying faulty or counterfeit items, Facebook recommends that you always make sure your purchases are authentic and in the condition the seller advertised them — before you hand over payment [*].

      Even then, this might not be enough. A Florida man was cautious when buying a phone for $500 on Facebook Marketplace. What he didn’t realize until he paid was that the device was, in fact, old — and wrapped in a replica casing [*]. 

      Demanding to mail items

      When a Nebraska man agreed to buy a pickup truck on Facebook Marketplace, he wanted to meet up with the seller and get the vehicle in person. Instead, the seller promised to have it shipped and delivered — a scam that cost the buyer $300 [*].

      Many scammers avoid in-person sales to better hide their identities and misrepresent their goods. If you have to pay for shipping, Facebook recommends that you request and verify a tracking number first.

      You should also use a reputable payment app, like PayPal, which allows you to contest and even reverse fraudulent transactions.

      Posting phony house rentals

      Facebook Marketplace has become popular for listing rental properties; but these, too, include scams.

      For example, some listings feature fake or misleading photos, volatile rental prices, or even occupied properties. Some scammers even demand deposits or rental fees for properties they never intend to rent. 

      One New York couple discovered a scammer charging $2,400 in rent for one of their properties. When the couple contacted the scammer, he tried to rent their own house to them [*]. 

      Facebook Marketplace rental scams like these are especially dangerous for out-of-state renters — they can't see the property in person and rely on photos and video tours. Facebook advises that you avoid sending deposits for big-ticket items unless you can verify ownership first. 

      📚 Related: How Do I Stop Someone From Using My Address?

      Asking you to communicate outside of Facebook Marketplace

      Scammers may try to move to a communication method that can’t be easily monitored or tracked, such as via phone calls or other chat tools.

      This way, you (or Facebook) won't have a record of what happened when you are eventually scammed. This also allows the scammers to keep their Facebook Marketplace accounts intact and unbanned.

      📚 Related: Watch Out For These 7 Awful OfferUp Scams

      Scams That Target Sellers

      Sellers should be just as cautious as buyers on Facebook Marketplace. As you interact with potential buyers, beware of these common seller scams:

      Reversed payment 

      With this scam, buyers purchase your items by using fake checks or stolen credit cards on apps like Venmo, Cash App, or Zelle.

      You lose your items, and the check bounces or the credit card payment gets reversed. Worse still, you may be liable for any bank fees or credit card debt.

      A Georgia man was saddled with a $750 monthly payment for a car he sold on Facebook Marketplace. The scammer left him with a fraudulent check that bounced shortly after it was deposited [*]. 

      Avoid checks, credit cards, and wire transfers — stick to approved channels only, such as PayPal and Facebook Checkout [*].

      📚 Related: Did You Get Scammed on Cash App? Here's What To Do

      Sending extra money and then asking for a refund

      In this scam, buyers use counterfeit funds, fake checks, stolen cards, or fake payment accounts to overpay for an item. To further the plot, they claim it was a mistake, and request a refund.

      When a North Carolina woman sold a table on Facebook Marketplace, scam buyers insisted that they sent her an extra $300 through Zelle. It was only after the seller refunded the extra money that she realized she never received the initial payment [*]. 

      To avoid this type of scam, reject overpayments entirely.

      Advanced or prepaid shipping 

      Shipping scams may involve buyers first claiming that they have a preferred shipper or shipping method.  They follow through with a prepaid shipping address label or insist that you ship the item to them before they pay.

      When the buyer controls the shipping process, you're left without tracking information or any proof of delivery. Scammers can claim they never received the package — or ship it to an untraceable location to protect their identity. In the end, if you don't receive payment before shipping, you probably never will.

      According to the FBI's Internet Crime Report, non-payment and non-delivery scams cost victims over $300 million in 2023 [*].

      📚 Related: The Latest UPS Text Message Scams You Need To Know

      Requesting verification codes

      A fledgling Facebook Marketplace scam involves fake buyers asking for verification codes in order to prove that you're not a scammer. In reality, the fraudster wants your verification code to take over one of  your online accounts. 

      A TikToker was asked to share her Google Voice number to confirm that she was a "real person." When she did, she received a verification code, which she then shared with the scammer [*]. Luckily, in this case, the victim was able to reclaim her account before the scammer took it over.  

      What To Do If You Get Scammed

      Both Facebook's Purchase Protection policy and Seller Protection policy aim to be stumbling blocks for scammers.

      If you suspect you’ve been scammed on Facebook Marketplace, follow these steps. 

      First, contact the buyer or seller. If you don’t receive a response within two days, file a claim or dispute with Facebook. You should also report the buyer's or seller's name, and follow on-screen instructions to alert Facebook of the misconduct.

      Note: Not all items are covered by Facebook’s policy. If you’re feeling uneasy about a purchase, check whether you’re covered first.

      The purchase protection policy covers the following situations:

      • You failed to receive your order.
      • The product was damaged or different from the listing.
      • The sellers didn’t follow their refund policy.
      • The purchase was unauthorized (your account was hacked or misused).

      Next, contact local law enforcement to alert them of the crime. You should also notify the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

      Depending on the nature of the scam, you might also consider freezing your credit file with the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion).

      ⛑️ Take action: Protect yourself from the risks of identity theft and fraud with Aura’s $1,000,000 in identity theft insurance. Try Aura free for 14 days to see if it’s right for you.

      How To Protect Yourself

      Facebook Marketplace is just one of many online marketplaces where scammers can target you. It’s important to know with whom you’re interacting, how scammers operate, and how to defend yourself against identity theft and fraud.

      1. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA). With 2FA in place, hackers need your account credentials and a special code to log in. 2FA can be hacked if someone has access to your device, so consider using an authenticator app like Google Authenticator.
      2. Thoroughly inspect all products before purchasing them. Check for damages, and make sure electronic devices power on and work as expected. 
      3. Meet with the buyer/seller in a well-lit, public place. Bring a friend, or make sure someone knows where you’re going and whom you’re meeting.
      4. Look at user ratings before making a purchase. Check buyer and seller profiles for anything that looks awry — such as strange posts and long periods of inactivity.
      5. Set up fraud alerts on your credit card and bank accounts. If someone has accessed your banking information through a social media scam, you’ll be alerted.
      1. Pay in cash, or use trusted payment methods. Remember, even your checks can be faked. If you use PayPal, don’t select “friends and family” payments, either; it voids your protection [*].
      2. Keep track of conversations with the buyer/seller. Stay on Facebook Marketplace so that it’s easy to track conversations if you wind up being scammed.
      3. Beware of buyers willing to purchase your product without seeing it. It may seem like an easy transaction, but chances are they’re just trying to scam you.
      4. Never ship before receiving payment. Use a Facebook-approved online payment service like PayPal or Facebook Checkout so both you and your buyer feel safe.
      5. If a seller seems suspicious, do a Google search of their email address. If it’s associated with other suspicious websites or listings, it’s a scam.
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