Almost second in choice to Craigslist and eBay, Facebook Marketplace is a go-to hub to find and pick a bargain in 2024, with 1.1 billion people using the same.
But besides its bustling popularity and usability, it's also currently a breeding platform for scammers and fraudsters out to trick and scam your money with almost 270 million fake active Facebook Marketplace accounts. Luckily, if you know what to look for and how to spot them, scammers aren't hard to detect.
Our guide for 2024 is here to equip you, whether buying or selling, with the insights to spot and avoid Facebook Marketplace scams, ensuring your transactions are secure and stress-free.
Types Of Facebook Marketplace Scams To Avoid in 2024
1. Counterfeit Goods
What Is It?: Counterfeit goods scams involve sellers offering fake or imitation products, misrepresenting them as genuine.
How To Spot?: For instance, if you think you have found a great deal on a designer handbag or exclusive jewelry piece, it's most likely to be fake. Facebook Marketplace scammers are extremely good at tricking buyers into believing that the item is worth a lot of money while it is really a cheap knock-off.
How To Avoid?: To avoid counterfeiting, examine the item in person thoroughly before purchasing or request detailed photos from various angles, including videos without filters. Always check that the items match the given photos on receiving the item. Besides this, check the market price for the item online along with authentic reviews, and don't pay until you get a certification of authenticity.
2. Non-Delivery Scams
What Is It?: This is one of the most common scams on Facebook Marketplace, where scammers accept payment after selling an item but never deliver it to the buyer. This usually only applies to items that are sent from outside the buyer’s local area.
How To Spot?: While there is no foolproof solution to the problem, scammers can be cunning and post high-quality pictures and sell the item to multiple buyers, besides answering questions and providing secondary photos. However, you can still spot the same if you are cautious and take note of overly low prices, vague product descriptions, immediate bank transfers, ask you to pay outside Facebook Marketplace, and sellers unwilling to meet in person.
How To Avoid?: While it can be very hard to spot this kind of scam, you can always take certain measures like checking comments, verifying fake tracking numbers, and asking for payment in cash. If the seller seems cagey about sending the item via post only, that should ring bells. Always prefer cash on delivery mode of payment and do send money if you think they are being over persuasive. Do not go for cryptocurrencies or other non-secure payment methods, including by wire, international funds transfers, money orders, and pre-loaded gift cards. In such cases, don’t shun away to walk away mid-sale.
3. Fake Giveaways/Phishing Scams
What Is It?: 2024 may see a lot of phishing or fake giveaway scams as scammers pose as sellers offering giveaways to collect personal or financial information. In such a scam, the scammers usually take you off the platform and ask you to install malware on your device to steal your sensitive information. They might also ask you to purchase a gift card instead of an in-person payment to scam you.
How To Spot?: This scam is relatively easy to spot as you just need to be skeptical of unsolicited offers, requests for personal information, and clicking on links outside Facebook Marketplace. If the scammers are asking you for personal payment details, then be sure to understand that it's a phishing scam.
How To Avoid?: To avoid falling victim to this scam, refrain from sharing sensitive information such as your bank account, credit card, Social Security number, or phone number with a seller on Facebook Marketplace and verify the legitimacy of giveaways. Never click a link for a giveaway advertised on Facebook Marketplace if something looks suspicious. Besides, for better protection, always enable website security features, set a strong password, and enable two-factor authentication.
4. Rental Scams
What Is It?: False rental listings are essentially designed to deceive and exploit potential renters with potentially low prices and too-good-to-be-true rental ads that are too tempting, mostly on fake rental listings for properties, spare rooms, boats, bikes, sports equipment, and potentially other rental items. In this type of scam, victims are usually asked for upfront payment to “reserve” the apartment. Once the same is done, the buyers usually never hear from the landlords again and can't find the website either.
How To Spot?: To spot these kinds of scammers, watch out for below-market prices, absentee landlords, and requests for payment without property viewing. Keep a look out for fake listing for a property that isn't really for rent.
How To Avoid?: Deal with local landlords, visit the property before making payments and use secure payment methods. These are some of the basic precautions you must take before making a payment. Besides this, be wary of listings that are way under market value and are not checked with trusted rentals like Vrbo, Airbnb, etc. It most probably is a fake listing designed to lure victims.
5. Bait And Switch Situations
What Is It?: Bait and switch situations is a scam where sellers advertise one product but provide a different, often inferior, item. For instance, you like a particular product and message the seller about the same, who insists you take something else but at a much higher price as your desired one is out of stock. This is a common Facebook Marketplace scam that persuades the buyer to purchase a different product than the one advertised, and often end up spending much more money.
How To Spot?: Whenever the seller asks to choose an alternative of a higher price, halt and confirm the authenticity of the same. Carefully review product descriptions, images, and user reviews and research whether others have been scammed the same way or not.
How To Avoid?: Back out from any sale that is not listed or registered. Don't succumb to any unusual product price or shipping fees that are not mentioned. Basically, it's best to move on from the seller and find the item you really wanted from another authentic seller.
1. Payment And Overpayment Scams
What Is It?: Payment and overpayment scams are sneaky traps that rip sellers off their money. They occur when a buyer intentionally overpays or uses fake payment methods, expecting the seller to return the overpayment before realizing the payment is fraudulent. Once the payment is returned, the original payment from the buyer is declined because scammers often use stolen credit cards for these transactions.
How To Spot?: Be cautious of buyers offering to overpay, especially when the offered amount is significantly higher than the item's value. Look out for counterfeit checks, use a fraudulent payment method or unusual or non-standard payment methods. For instance, if a buyer says that they have accidentally paid you $100 instead of $50 and asks to send back the difference, the transaction is likely to be fake, and in the end, you will be whipped off the entire $100.
How To Avoid?: Stick to secure and widely recognized payment methods and use Facebook Checkout for all payments to make sure your transaction is protected should anything go wrong.Do not agree to an overpayment, and verify the buyer's identity before returning the difference. Be skeptical of unusual payment requests and thoroughly check that you have actually received a payment from a buyer before offering to refund any money.
2. Returns Scams/ Claims Of Lost Packages
What Is It?: In returns scams, a buyer falsely claims the item wasn't received or received in a damaged condition, aiming for a refund or a replacement. And in return, they will ask if they can return the item and request a refund. The scammer will then either fail to return the item or return something that is broken, or return something completely different to provide legitimate tracking. Alternatively, they might also provide fake tracking details to prove they have returned the item.
How To Spot?: It's very important to maintain comprehensive documentation, including shipping details and communication with the buyer. In case of a refund, ask for clear pictures of the damaged item, including real-time videos from the time it was delivered. Be wary of inconsistent claims.
How To Avoid?: Always use the tracking number to counter any claims of the package being lost or never shipped. Clearly state your return policy in your listings, and document the item's condition before shipping. Keep records of all communication to refute false claims. If you do take the item, always wait before issuing a refund until you receive it and check that it is in full working order.
3. Electronic Payment Delay Scams
What Is It?: In electronic payment delay scams, buyers may claim delayed electronic payments, urging the seller to send the item before the payment is processed. Since banking apps and services can be a little temperamental, it's very easy for a seller to naturally trust a buyer during an in-person sale and hand over the item, thinking the money will arrive shortly.
How To Spot?: Be cautious if a buyer provides various excuses for payment delays, especially if they are in a hurry to receive the item. If you let the hurried buyer leave before the transaction is cleared, you may never see the item or the scammer again.
How To Avoid?: Always wait for payment confirmation before shipping the item. Use secure and verified payment methods to minimize the risk of delays or potential scams.
4. 2FA Scams
What Is It?: Two-factor authentication (2FA) scams involve scammers attempting to trick sellers into revealing their 2FA codes. In this particular scam, the buyer will show interest in purchasing a particular item from the seller on Facebook Marketplace and ask for the seller’s phone number to discuss the purchase further. Next, the scammer will use that information to create a Google Voice account in the seller’s name and ask for a 2FA code that the victim receives to engage in further scams.
How To Spot?: Be suspicious of unsolicited requests for 2FA codes or login credentials. Legitimate platforms rarely ask for this information. And if a buyer is asking for this, it is highly likely that you’re being scammed as these security codes are meant only for you, and being asked to give them away is always cause for alarm.
How To Avoid?: Never share your 2FA codes or login details with anyone. Enable 2FA to enhance the security of your account and transactions. But if you have already shared the same, the best course of action is to log in to your Google account, head to Google Voice, and get a new number for yourself, as Google only allows users to have one Voice number per mobile device so when you link a new one, the old one made by the scammer will be unlinked. But it's advisable not to provide any personal phone numbers on any sales website. You can always use the internal messenger for communication, and anybody asking for the same is most likely a scammer.
5. Quick Interest
What Is It?: Quick interest scams occur when buyers express immediate interest in an expensive product that you have listed a couple of minutes ago without asking relevant questions or engaging in negotiation and might ask you to email about the purchase instead of directly talking on the site.
How To Spot?: Be cautious if a buyer rushes the transaction without seeking detailed information or negotiation and wants to talk about the transaction outside the seller's website.
How To Avoid?: Engage in thorough communication, ask and answer questions, and ensure the buyer's commitment before proceeding. Genuine buyers typically take the time to understand the product and its details.
How To Avoid Facebook Marketplace Scams: 7 Protection Tips
Did you know that 13%-16% of active Facebook Marketplace accounts may be fake, and 1 in 6 users report being scammed?
Yes, with Facebook launching its cyber marketplace in October 2016, allowing users to trade with each other using Facebook’s payment portal, the risks of online scams have become manifold. In fact, it is one of the most commonly used sites by fraudsters and scammers. So, if you want to avoid Facebook Marketplace scams and still have a safe and successful buying or selling experience, here are 7 best protection tips to help you steer clear of scams and make secure transactions on the platform:
1. Research the Seller: Before engaging in any transaction, thoroughly research the seller's profile. A well-established seller typically has a history of successful transactions, positive reviews, and an active presence on the platform. Be cautious of accounts with minimal activity or those that have recently been created.
2. Use Secure Payment Methods: Stick to secure payment methods when making transactions. For instance, consider using a verified form of payment like PayPal or options like Cash on delivery. Avoid wire transfers, overpayments, cryptocurrency, or gift cards, as these payment methods are often used in scams and provide little to no recourse for recovery.
3. Trust Your Instincts: If a deal seems too good to be true, it’s most likely to be fake, or if the seller is pressuring you to make a quick decision, trust your instincts and proceed with caution to evaluate the offer and the seller's credibility. Scammers often create a sense of urgency to manipulate buyers into making hasty decisions.
4. Verify Product Authenticity: When dealing with high-value items or products that are frequently counterfeited, take extra precautions. Research the authentic features of the product and ask the seller for proof of authenticity. For example, if you see a PlayStation 5 on sale for £30, that’s probably a scam!
5. Keep Up With Security Protection: Check your bank statements and credit card reports and watch for signs, such as strange accounts you don’t recognize. Enable two-factor authentication to keep your sensitive information private and ensure that you implement virus protection on all your digital devices in case you accidentally open a spam link.
6. Insist On Trackable Shipping Methods: Get a tracking number as it signals the authenticity of a deal and enter it directly on the courier’s official website, not via any links you’re sent. As a seller, never ship items before payment has been made, and check your account to verify a cleared transaction.
7. Don't Leave The Platform: Don’t take the communication outside of Facebook Marketplace. Stick to the platform for all communication, maintaining a record of the conversation/ transaction if there are any issues with the purchase or payment later.
By following these protection tips, you can reduce the risk of falling victim to Facebook Marketplace scams and enjoy a safer and more secure experience when buying or selling items on the platform. Stay informed, use common sense, and prioritize safety in all your transactions.
How To Report A Facebook Marketplace Scam?
Fake accounts can create a nuisance and detract from the buying and selling experience. This is why if you are a Facebook Marketplace user and have recently been tricked by a scammer, it's important for you to know the next measure for damage control. It's okay to get scammed as a new user. But what's not okay is to still idly and not report the same.
Here are the practical steps you should take to report the incident:
- Go to Facebook Marketplace, log in to your Facebook account, and click on the "Marketplace" icon in the left-hand menu or by visiting the Marketplace page directly.
- Locate the specific listing or user profile associated with the suspected scam, click on the three dots (ellipsis) beside the “Share” tab that indicates a drop-down menu, and click on “Report Listing.”
- Select a category related to scams or fraudulent activity, in this case, “Scam.”
- Click on “Done,” or you can take additional actions to tighten security like “Blocking” or “Reporting the listing for review.”
However, if you want to report a specific buyer/seller with whom you have had transactions and conversations, you seemly need to:
- Click on “Inbox” after opening the “Marketplace,” where you will see 2 tabs, “Buying” and “Selling”
- Depending on who you want to report, click on the tab “More Options” and “Report Seller/Buyer.”
- Select the issue, in this case, “Scam.”
- After reporting, click on “Done,” and your report will be sent to Facebook for evaluation.
Besides these steps, you can also record all conversations and report the same to the police, especially if you’ve lost money or an item with substantial value. And if you suspect a seller or buyer of fraudulent activity, it's best to submit feedback to Facebook to help them keep track of ongoing scams and improve their security measures. For more information, check out Facebook’s official guidelines for staying safe while using Facebook Marketplace so you can avoid scams.
Protect Your Way to Scams!
The types of scams discussed are the most common and most probably only a fraction of the risks you may encounter. Thus, as we expand and explore the possibilities of an online marketplace, staying aware of the ongoing scams on platforms like Facebook Marketplace becomes paramount. Whether as a buyer or a seller, diligence is key in ensuring that your transactions in 2024 and beyond are not only successful but also secure, besides adopting proactive protection measures to create a safer online marketplace environment.
So, stay vigilant and informed, and in case you need to know more about these scams breeding on Facebook Marketplace and ways to protect yourself, feel free to visit this blog as and when you like!
FAQ’s(Frequently Asked Questions)
What actions does Facebook Marketplace take to prevent scams?
Facebook Marketplace employs automated systems and user reporting to identify and remove suspicious listings. They also provide guidelines for safe transactions. For instance, Facebook Marketplace purchases are protected by Facebook’s purchase protection policy that ensures that the purchase is made using a verified form of payment via Facebook Checkout. However, users must stay vigilant and report any scams to help Facebook take action against fraudulent activity.
What is the danger of the Facebook marketplace?
The main dangers on Facebook Marketplace include scams, phishing, and counterfeit items. Users may encounter fraudulent sellers, leading to financial losses or compromised personal information. It's crucial to exercise caution and follow safety guidelines when using the platform.
Will Facebook refund my money if I was scammed?
Facebook doesn't guarantee refunds for transactions on Marketplace. However, if they approve the buyer’s claim, they can sometimes offer a partial refund that would include the item's full purchase price, tax, and shipping fees, solely based on their discretion. And if you used a secure payment method like PayPal, you may have buyer protection.