In our digital world, brands and people sell goods online on numerous platforms.
Facebook created its Marketplace to allow users to buy and sell stuff. The platform attracts a lot of positive activity, yet scams are plenty.
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What is Facebook Marketplace?
Facebook Marketplace is an online platform that allows people to buy and sell items. It was built for users who want to connect with people in their community as sellers and buyers.
The easy-to-use Marketplace platform keeps on evolving. It expanded to include merchant selling, making it an effective tool for brands.
Is Facebook Marketplace safe?
The Marketplace has over one billion users using it effectively. But not every activity is safe.
With all its legitimate business activity, Marketplace turned out to be a fertile ground for scammers and scams of all kinds.
To avoid dishonest buyers and sellers that take advantage of the platform, it is a good idea to familiarize yourselves with red flags and popular scams.
What are some examples of Facebook Marketplace scams?
There are many ways scammers try to deceive others on the Marketplace for more than one reason.
Here’s a list of some of the most common scams:
- Counterfeits: A seller offers authentic products with an attractive price tag, but what you get is a counterfeit.
- Catfishing: This involves luring someone into a relationship or a meeting using a fake photo or online persona.
- Lucky winner scams: You get a message telling you that you have won something. Click on it, and it takes you to a website where you have to pay a fee or put in your personal information, such as bank details. The scammers sometimes add a photo of a celebrity to make it look like he or she endorses the offer.
- Friends or family emergencies: You receive a plea for financial help from a friend or family member whose Facebook Messenger has been hacked. Wanting to help, you send the money, and it goes straight to the scammer.
Fake funds scam by buyers
A common scam by buyers includes overpaying for the item with counterfeit funds.
After making the payment, the scammers claim they overpaid by accident and ask the seller to refund the difference.
The seller returns the money just to discover that the money never made it to his account.
Scammers use different ways to pull this off, including sending fake payment receipts or screenshots of an app notification that shows the transfer of funds to the seller.
Zelle scam by buyers
A recently reported scam by buyers on Marketplace works as follows.
You post a relatively expensive item on Facebook Marketplace. A buyer contacts you, asking to pay with a peer-to-peer payment app such as Zelle, CashApp, Venmo, or other similar services.
Shortly after he sends payment, you get an email that looks like it was sent from the payment service, telling you the buyer paid via a “business account”.
The funds are supposedly there, but to get them, you need to upgrade to a business account. The upgrade costs $300, but the buyer offers to send you the money if you promise to refund it later.
The scammer pretends to send the fund and then starts asking for his money back. Once you refund the money, it does not take long before you realize they never sent the money to your account. And they disappear.
Venmo scam by buyers
Another scam by a buyer involved expensive cameras.An LA seller listed his camera on Facebook Marketplace.
A buyer contacted him, agreed to buy the item, and asked to pay with Venmo.
The seller and buyer agreed. The buyer deposited the money in $80 or $90 installments.
It required a total of 52 transactions to pay for the camera. The seller thought it weird but felt reassured because he had the money. He made plans to meet the buyer and handed him his camera. Then he set to transfer the money to his bank account.
The next day the seller found out that Venmo blocked the transfer because he broke the app’s user policy. He was not going to get the money.
When he shared his story, he realized that about 20 people had been victims of the same scam in their area during the course of about two weeks.
Credit scam by buyers
A buyer ran a “provisional credit” scheme on Facebook Marketplace, as reported by the Department of Justice in the District of Connecticut.
The man, Ammisetti, targeted people who were sellers or advertised rooms for rent. He would contact them as a buyer interested in making a purchase. To finalize the transaction, he would ask for bank account details and personal information.
He also offered to make a deposit into the account. At this point, he would contact the seller’s bank and use his information to pretend to be the owner of the account. He claimed that he made an ATM deposit that did not register in the bank account.
While the bank verified the information, they would credit the seller’s bank account with provisional credit. At this point, Ammisetti would contact his victim and claim that the provisional credit was in fact a transfer that he made by mistake and request to get his money back.
The seller, who could see the money in his account, returned the “mistaken” funds with a P2P transfer. Later, when the bank found out there was no deposit unaccounted for, they would withdraw the provisional credit.
It is estimated that Ammisetti alone was able to steal at least $860,000 with this scam.
Shipping scam by buyer
You list a product for sale, and a buyer responds and asks to use their shipping company rather than yours. They offer to send a prepaid shipping label, and you agree. It may seem harmless, but now the buyers are in charge. They can change the delivery address and later claim they never received the product and ask for a refund.
How to avoid scams when selling on Marketplace?
- Check the buyer’s Facebook profile. Make sure they have a full profile. Most real profiles have pictures and friends. Also, it is highly likely, they were not just opened last week.
- Don’t trust a person willing to overpay. Unless you are selling something rare and receive multiple offers, it is a red flag if someone offers to pay you more than your listed price.
- Do not accept payments outside of Facebook channels. The Marketplace currently protects payments made through PayPal or Facebook Checkout and not through other payment methods.
- Check the email address to examine if it is legitimate. When you receive an official email, such as from Zelle, look carefully because scammers often use almost identical email addresses.
- Verify with the payment app. If a buyer claims you need an upgrade to your account to accept payments, you can look at the app’s website or contact customer service to find out if what they claim is true.
- Beware of buyers who insist on communicating outside of Facebook messages. Do not chat, call or message outside Facebook when selling on Facebook Marketplace.
If you get messages with “Trust me, I’ll pay more than you’re asking plus shipping” or “I can pay you right now with Venmo or Cash App” maybe the buyer is not your best option. If you are suspicious, consider reporting the buyer to Marketplace to make it safer for everybody.
Why report a buyer on Facebook Marketplace?
In terms of conducting yourself safely on the Marketplace, it is not only about sellers. Buyers can also create an unsafe Marketplace. When you notice any suspicious activity, it is recommended to cancel the transaction and report the buyer. When necessary, also contact authorities.
How to report a buyer on Marketplace?
To report a buyer, this is what you need to do:
- Go into your Facebook account.
- From your News Feed find Marketplace
- Click on Your Account
- Inside your account, go to Your Listings and within it, the listing the buyer purchased
- Then click on the message between you and the buyer.
- Click the three dots in the top right
- Choose Report Buyer
- Follow the instructions to report the buyer.
Wiser Market Online Brand Protection
Facebook Marketplace, previously available only for peer-to-peer selling and buying, now includes sales by brands.
It allows legitimate brands to reach target audiences to sell and get brand exposure while paying nothing to list products. At the same time, it creates an avenue for counterfeiters and other scammers.
Wiser Market anti-counterfeiting agency protects brands online.
The company’s innovative technology and unique know-how helps you fight counterfeiters and protect your brand, partners and consumers across online marketplaces, eCommerce platforms and social networks.
Wiser Market’s successful online brand protection strategy defends your intellectual property, revenue, and reputation, resulting in a success rate of over 90%.
With Wiser Market, your brand will have a 360° protection suit, allowing you to grow your business.
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Does Facebook charge for Marketplace?
No. There are no listing fees on Marketplace.
Can I get scammed on Facebook Marketplace?
On Marketplace and other online channels, always look for red flags and beware.
What is buyer fraud?
Buyer fraud is when a potential customer intentionally defrauds a seller while they are in the process of completing a transaction.
Can I report buyer on Facebook Marketplace?
Yes. Go into the listing, find “Report Buyer”, and follow the instructions.