Don't Get Duped by These 10 Facebook Marketplace Scams
If you're on Facebook (and even in the age of Instagram and TikTok, who isn't?), you've probably gotten an ad or 50 from Facebook's selling platform. There, users can find everything from local rental listings to furniture and electronics. It's like Craigslist, only on Facebook.
While most sellers are legitimate, there are always bad apples out there looking to prey upon unsuspecting shoppers. Don't get caught unawares! Look out for these 10 common Facebook Marketplace scams. Some are less obvious than you'd expect.
Red Flag No. 1: Moving Communication Off Facebook
How this Facebook Marketplace scam works: Initially, everything seems on the up and up. The seller seems to be local, the item has clear pictures and a thorough description ... what could go wrong? As soon as you reach out to express interest in making a purchase, the seller requests to move communication off of Facebook. Common tactics are requesting payment via Venmo, CashApp or wire transfer. Once you're off Facebook, the platform's Purchase Protection policies no longer apply. The scammer will take your money and vanish, and Marketplace won't do a thing about it.
How to avoid it: Keep all communications and payments within Facebook's official channels. If a seller requests payment outside of Facebook Checkout, be very, very suspicious.
Red Flag No. 2: Offering to Mail Items
How this Facebook Marketplace scam works: Once you ask to purchase an item, the scammer requests pre-payment in exchange for shipping the item directly to you. Instead of getting the item, the buyer receives either a cheaper version of what they purchased or nothing at all. Often, the seller shares falsified shipping information to make it seem like they've sent the item when the item probably never even existed.
How to avoid it: Facebook Marketplace is best used for items you can pick up in person. If you have to order something that simply must be shipped, make sure the shipper can send up-to-date photos and videos before you complete the purchase. As previously mentioned, always complete payment through Facebook Checkout to ensure your purchase is protected.
Red Flag No. 3: Requesting a Deposit
How this Facebook Marketplace scam works: Items in high demand might sell fast, and you'll need to put down a deposit to hold the item. That's how it works according to Facebook scammers, anyway. They demand that you place a deposit so they don't pass along the item to the next interested buyer, but it's all a scheme. There is no long list of eager buyers waiting to scoop it up. There's just a fraudulent criminal waiting to grab your deposit and make away with it in the night.
How to avoid it: Simple! No matter how plausible this one might seem, don't provide any payment information until you've seen the item in person. It's not worth the risk, and the better the deal appears, the more likely it is to be a scam.
Red Flag No. 4: Rental Prices That Seem Too Good to Be True
How this Facebook Marketplace scam works: Facebook rental listings are among the most common niches for scammers to target. The lesser of the rental scam evils include misleading apartment photos or inaccurate pricing. Others charge illegal background check fees or, even worse, repost photos of rentals owned by others. The fake property managers then take a deposit for a property they never owned in the first place.
How to avoid it: Always tour the property in person before filling out any applications or providing a deposit. If a property lister claims you can't see the property in person because they're out of town or if they pressure you to put down an immediate deposit, run.
Red Flag No. 5: Abnormally Low Prices on Designer Items
How this Facebook Marketplace scam works: That amazingly low-priced Lululemon jacket, Coach bag or brand-new gaming console might look like the real deal, but it's likely a counterfeit. If the prices are far below the usual asking price and the item appears to be brand new, trouble is brewing.
How to avoid it: Review the usual prices of items before making a purchase. If the price is way off from the norm, it's better to buy elsewhere. If you do choose to buy it anyway, request multiple photos of the item and conduct a reverse image search to see if the photos are stolen from another seller's listing.
Red Flag No. 6: The Seller's Account Is Brand New
How this Facebook Marketplace scam works: If you wanted to make a fake Facebook account, you could do it pretty quickly. You could also upload fake items, ask for payment off-site and then disappear. While you wouldn't do that because you're not a terrible person, there are scammers out there who make fake accounts just to pull stunts like that. If a seller's account is brand new, consider it a red flag.
How to avoid it: The original point of Facebook Marketplace was for people to sell items locally, almost exactly like Craigslist. Most sellers on Facebook have already had an account for years. If the seller's account is less than a year old, buyer beware.
Red Flag No. 7: Low-Priced Electronics
How this Facebook Marketplace scam works: One of the more nefarious ways of scamming people on Facebook is by selling items that don't work. This is most common with computers and other used tech gadgets. Sellers hand over broken items in hopes that the buyer won't check if it works before completing payment.
How to avoid it: Don't buy any electronics without testing them thoroughly. Turn them on, try them out, and make sure they charge correctly before handing over the cash. If the seller tries to pressure you into making a deal fast, walk away.
Red Flag No. 8: Giveaways From Sketchy Sources
How this Facebook Marketplace scam works: Scammers post links to fake giveaways, often cryptocurrency sweepstakes, on public Facebook pages or in Marketplace listings. Once a user gets curious and clicks on them, however, harmful malware is downloaded onto their hard drives. From there, hackers have a shot at getting ahold of the user's passwords and credit card information.
How to avoid it: Once again, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don't click on any suspicious links, and report sketchy accounts to Facebook. Some giveaways are legitimate, but only consider ones from major brands with a well-known social media presence. It's always worth contacting their customer service department to confirm. If you're not sure if you've been hacked, look for these telltale signs.
Red Flag No. 9: Requesting Large Deposits
How this Facebook Marketplace scam works: This one's similar to simply requesting a deposit like we previously mentioned, but it applies to bigger purchases. For instance, buying cars safely on Marketplace is possible, but buyers should place deposits with caution. A common scam is for sellers to request a holding fee, then provide the buyer with a fake address to meet at. The buyer shows up, but no one is there, and the car isn't there either.
How to avoid it: It's more work to research a car thoroughly before purchasing, but for an item as expensive as a car, it's worth it. Request a vehicle history report from the Federal Trade Commission, and schedule a car inspection before buying. Also, consult Kelley Blue Book to get an estimate of how much the vehicle should cost before you hand over a single cent.
Red Flag No. 10: They Charge for Shipping Insurance
How this Facebook Marketplace scam works: Requesting shipping insurance may not seem that weird, but fraudsters send over fake invoices with unrealistically expensive insurance charges. This is usually done after the original purchase has been made, pressuring the buyer into paying for over-the-top insurance fees that aren't even real. All the scammers do is pocket the money and vanish.
How to avoid it: We already warned against purchasing items that require shipping. But if you decide to do it and a seller demands additional payment on top of the cost of the item and shipping fee, cancel the transaction. You should never have to pay additional fees after the fact. The shipping cost should be included in the original purchase price. Anything extra is a warning sign.
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