Facebook Marketplace Scams: What are They and How to Avoid Them?

February 15th, 2023

When looking into saving money people often go to secondhand stores or platforms such as the Facebook Marketplace, where users can sell and purchase secondhand items. This is indeed a convenient way to find some cheap items - plus it is more ecofriendly to sell than to throw away the things you no longer use. But, like with everything else, there are downsides to this platform, primarily in form of the Facebook marketplace scams.

Many people have fallen victim to some ill-willed Facebook users who are looking to grab money or data away from others. If you would like to feel safe on the Facebook marketplace, you need to be informed and educated, so you know how to avoid Facebook marketplace scams.

How Does the Facebook Marketplace Work?

The Facebook marketplace is one part of the Facebook platform that allows its users to discover, buy, sell, and rent items. There are categories that you can scroll through, such as clothing&accesories, home&garden, housing, and many more. Millions of users can put their items on sale, or even offer them for free, but neither the buyer nor seller is immune to Facebook marketplace scams.

You can find items in your wanted area, so you can agree to collect them in person, but you can also do shipping on the Facebook marketplace. Of course, deciding to collect the purchased item in person could make you less prone to fraud, but it is not always possible to avoid shipping. In those cases, you will need to pay using an eCommerce platform, and these are the cases when most Facebook marketplace scams happen.

Most Frequent Scams

Are you wondering how are people scammed on the Facebook marketplace and what are the most frequent Facebook marketplace scams? The knowledge of the dangers should not discourage you from using this platform - rather, it should educate you so you can feel safe while using it.

Unlike other eCommerce sites, the Facebook marketplace is much more democratized and allows much more seller-buyer interaction. This can create an opportunity for a fraudster to manipulate its victim and go unnoticed easily. Here we listed the most common Facebook marketplace scams to help you be aware and safe.

1. Phishing Scams

Is it safe to buy on the Facebook marketplace? Those who fall victim to a phishing scam will probably tell you that it is not. This is a situation in which a person is not defrauded for their money, but rather personal information, and oftentimes exploited for them.

This is a real cyber threat that happens on many platforms on the internet, and the Facebook marketplace is no different. These fraudsters will find a way to collect your personal data, Google details, and phone numbers, and target your online and offline persona.

It can go from hacking your account to stealing your identity, and it is very hard to deal with both. It goes without saying that you should be careful to whom you are giving your phone and credit card number and to protect your private information, such as email and location. Facebook marketplace scams usually result in people losing their money, but losing your identity is much more damaging and stressful.

2. Robberies

Robberies are a very common Facebook marketplace scam that happened to thousands of people. Some people look for a way to steal your money by listing items they will not ship to you after they collect your payment.

Those who want to defraud you will not agree to an in-person pickup, no matter how close you are. They usually insist that you pay them upfront and use a wiring channel, such as Venmo. Sometimes they dare to send an empty box or something that you did not purchase.

Stay away from any sketchy offers that seem too good to be true, because nine times out of ten they in fact are just that. Use official payment channels where you can get your money back in case something happens.

3. Robbing the Seller

Facebook marketplace scams are targeting everyone, no one is safe. Although robberies are usually happening to buyers, scammers have found a way to steal money from sellers, too. If you are listing an item on the marketplace, watch out for those potential buyers who allegedly transferred too much money.

Fake buyers will most likely tell you that they mistakenly overpaid for your item, and will kindly request for you to give them back the rest. But, what in fact they are doing is making you transfer the money they’ve never even sent you.

There are methods for a seller to protect themselves from Facebook marketplace scams, but firstly they should be using proper channels of payment. Some of them deny the overpayment, so you know that if someone tries this with you - they are a scammer and you should report them immediately.

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4. Knockoff Items

People love a good designer bag but do not like the price and secondhand stores and online platforms are a great place for designer finds. But where you see a way to find quality items, some people see an opportunity for another Facebook marketplace scam.

It is one thing to go shop in an actual secondhand store, where you can feel the material and see the label, and judge the knockoffness for yourself. But when you are scrolling through the “Clothes&accesories” on the marketplace wall, all you can do is trust the seller.

One of the first things you should do to avoid Facebook marketplace scams is to check the online reviews to estimate the integrity of the user. However, sometimes it happens that even a seller doesn’t know that an item is counterfeit. Nevertheless, they are responsible for what they are selling and should be reported.

5. Broken Goods

Another one of the many Facebook marketplace buyer scams is not disclosing that an item is damaged, and selling it for its full price. Marketplace scammers are sometimes listing broken items, and while it is easy to recognize them on a shirt or a bag, it is very difficult to know if a piece of technology is damaged just by looking at a picture.

An Online Shopper Displeased With the Delivered Broken Goods

Once you become a rightful owner and you discover that the computer or a laptop doesn’t work properly, there are two reasons for that to happen. Either you are a victim of a Facebook marketplace scam, or the item got damaged during the shipment. Reach out to the seller and try to get fair compensation. If this doesn’t work, report them and stop them from continuing to scam people in online marketplaces.

6. Stolen Items

When buying luxurious items online there is a chance that you are buying stolen goods, and the seller is a thief who wants to cash in their theft. Facebook marketplace scams, as stated before, usually target people’s money, but this one is dangerous for different reasons.

Rightful owners of that item may come looking for their possession, and if that happens you need to provide evidence of the marketplace scammer. Legitimate sellers will have a receipt or some kind of proof that the listing is legal, even if it is a family inheritance.

7. Illegitimate Rental Units

There is a trend in the housing market of signing the rental agreement before even visiting a property in person. This is used by some sketchy people who want to earn a quick buck. Facebook marketplace scams in the renting category are booming right now.

It is advised to do a Google image reverse search to check the origin of the property pictures. People are downloading pictures of random houses and apartments, and baiting potential renters to transfer the deposit. The scam can be that the rental does not actually look anything like the pictures suggest, and even that the rental does not exist.

Facebook marketplace scams are often a bait-and-switch type, especially in the renting market. People are putting unrealistic prices, but request additional transfers after closing the deal. Potential buyers and renters get lured in, but often fall victim to these frauds.

How to Recognize a Facebook Marketplace Scam?

Facebook is not a new network and millions of people have profiles on it - before you start a transaction, make sure who is behind the profile. If the account is new, there is a big chance that behind it is a scammer. If they don’t have many friends and the ones that they do have sketchy names - that’s a red flag.

Facebook marketplace scams usually happen when people are using unofficial methods of payment, wire transfers, and even shady local pickups. If a person insists on communicating through unofficial channels and money wires, they are most likely a fraud.

If they request personal information that you deem unimportant for the occasion, stop communicating with them. Overall, trust your instincts and use official means of communication and money transfer.

What to Do if You Get Scammed?

Facebook marketplace buyer protection works only if you use Facebook’s checkout as a method of payment. Additionally, some professionals actively search through the listings and fact-check them, they remove the Facebook marketplace scams and make it a safer place for shopping. Nevertheless, it is possible that they miss a few, or that a scammer is too smart and goes unchecked.

If you do get scammed, report a seller by clicking the left-hand corner of your wall and choose which listing by which seller you want to report. Make sure to write a detailed description of the situation and how it affected you. If you are from the USA and you lost your money, contact the Federal Trade Commission and the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Paying in Foreign Currency

There may be a situation where you want to buy something from a Facebook marketplace user overseas, in which case you may need foreign currency so you don’t pay extra fees. Contact US First Exchange and get any amount of foreign currency delivered to your address in 24 - 48 hours.

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