How to Safely Conduct Business on Facebook Marketplace and Avoid Scams

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What is the Facebook Marketplace?

Facebook Marketplace, an online shop and Craigslist are alike and just as likely to contain scams. It allows you to trade goods, services, and even homes to people in your local area. It also allows you to purchase from other sellers.

Originally, Facebook Marketplace only offered local pay and pickup. But since, Facebook Checkout has been introduced, allowing you to make online purchases using a credit card or a PayPal account. If you use Facebook Checkout, you are covered by Facebook Purchase Protection.


What are Facebook marketplace scams?

A facebook scammer can use various techniques to steal your money or credentials. Modern cybercriminals frequently use social engineering to dupe unsuspecting consumers into falling for scams. A scammer can trick someone into thinking they are safe by preying on their victim's desire for the best deal.


Identifying Facebook Marketplace Scams

How can you tell that somebody's attempting to trick you on Facebook Marketplace? If you notice any of the following red flags, you may be dealing with a scammer:

- A buyer or seller who has a new profile or does not have a Facebook profile photo.

- A price that appears to be too good to be true for a high-ticket item.

- A buyer who wishes to pay with a gift card or to send you a prepaid shipping label.

- A buyer who "accidentally" overpays for an item or wishes to make a quick payment.

- A seller or buyer asking for personal information such as your phone number or email address, or wishing to communicate with you outside of Facebook.


How do Facebook Marketplace Scams Work?

Scammers have come up with numerous methods for defrauding Facebook Marketplace users, each of which works differently. Buyer scams typically occur when someone attempts to purchase or trade for a product without paying. Seller scams occur when someone provides something for sale but fails to deliver the item as promised.


The Most Common Facebook Marketplace Scams Today

Scammers on Facebook Marketplace will knowingly deceive you into buying something you didn't want in the first place. Your order either won't be shipped, will be seriously defective, or will be a completely distinct (and usually much less valuable) product altogether.

It is essential to identify some of the most common tactics in order to avoid falling victim to them. Specific scamming strategies are discussed further below.


Counterfeit items

Both online and offline markets are riddled with counterfeit items. However, since Facebook is a global platform where anyone can trade with anyone (and it's often difficult to locate sellers), the risk of buying fake products is amplified.

Counterfeit items are basically fake copies of any real product that are sold as the "real deal." Criminals mainly copy expensive products because they create the biggest profits.

There are many different types of deceptive products to keep an eye out for, including fake designer clothes, perfumes, cosmetics, sports jerseys, and jewelry.


Mailed item scams

Be aware that receiving mailed items has a much higher "scam potential" than picking them up personally. After all, the seller can just refuse to mail your item after you pay them.

That's why it's always a good choice to use FB Marketplace's location function to select the city where you live or a city near you, within a few miles radius. That way, it's actually possible to meet the seller, examine the product, and just pick it up straight away if you like it.

We understand that you might not be able to search all of the products you require or want nearby your place. In that case, we would first recommend you to consider if you're better off ordering a product (new, if necessary) from a valid web store rather than from someone whose item might or might not exist.


Bait-and-switch

The so-called "bait-and-switch" technique is another age-old malicious sales tactic you may encounter on Facebook Marketplace.

This technique includes advertising a decent or luxurious product for a relatively cheap price, only to have it "unavailable" when a buyer contacts the seller. The seller will then offer the buyer a more expensive product or one of lower quality or quantity. In other words, the deal has suddenly become less appealing.


Broken products

Broken products are commonly sold on Facebook Marketplace. It can be very tricky for buyers to check to see whether or not a product is broken from their pictures. Images do not always accurately represent reality. They may have been clicked at an earlier date, for example, or perhaps they're images of a different product altogether.


Fake Facebook Marketplace rentals

You should be cautious of fake or misleading rentals on Facebook Marketplace. There have been cases of all kinds of deception on this front, ranging from using inaccurate images to the use of bait-and-switch tactics, all the way to posting pictures of someone else's property.

Always go to the property you want to rent before transmitting any money or signing anything. Needless to say, these scams can also occur when purchasing a home (as opposed to renting).


QR code scams

Criminals might pretend to be interested in a product you're selling and even bargain a little to make the scam more believable. They will then send a small fraction of the product's amount and, when the full amount is due, ask you to scan a QR code. They do so to "verify their money is wired into the correct account."

Rather than getting your money, you will ultimately pay the scammer the specified amount. In general, QR codes pose a significant risk of fraud.


"Accidental" overpaying

Sellers can get conned, too. Faking payment receipts or confirmations with an amount that's higher than the selling price is one of the simpler ways tricksters can trick sellers.

You know how you get a message saying you've transferred money using PayPal or another payment service? It is very simple to falsify this message without engaging in a financial transaction.

After convincing the seller they overpaid, the scammer will request the seller pay back "the excess amount." Of course, the seller will have no money in their bank account, but the scammer will run away with the amount he "overpaid."


Fake giveaways

Endorsing fake giveaways is yet another common trick on Facebook Marketplace. Swindlers hope that, by presenting fake giveaways, they can get users to click on malicious links that will download malware on their devices. Their goal is to get confidential data from users by convincing them to enter the "giveaway" (phishing). Once scammers acquire your sensitive data, they will find potential ways to abuse it.

Frankly, fake giveaways are more prevalent on other social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook (as in, the social media platform, not the marketplace). However, since these platforms are extremely well-known and these scams do also happen on FB Marketplace sometimes, it's better to be cautious of these scam ads.

Markers of potential fake giveaways consist of the profile behind the giveaway being very recent, spelling errors or text that appears to have been translated using a translation app or website, or a "prize" that seems very dubious or "too good to be true."

There have been cases of scammers providing free cryptocurrency on Facebook Marketplace. Obviously, these are fake giveaways. They're simply a ruse to get users to click on suspicious sites that possibly contain a ton of malware or to rob their crypto or money.


Fake accounts

Fake accounts are a pretty common sight on Facebook and also on the Facebook Marketplace. Technically, they are more of a scam facilitator rather than a scam.

Many Facebook scams are operated using fake accounts to protect the criminal's identity. The key to preventing various frauds is identifying those fake accounts.

Facebook Marketplace is linked to your normal Facebook profile, and it uses FB Messenger to contact people.

This means you can see how long a seller on Facebook Marketplace has been active. If they have only recently created their profile, this is usually a red flag.

Of course, someone could have opened a Facebook account recently to endorse on Facebook Marketplace. However, given Facebook launched early in 2006 and the fact that it's the world's most famous social media, suspicion is more than justified if you come across an account that was set up yesterday.

Other red flags for fake accounts include blank or unusual bios and a handful or no friends. If you think an account is fraudulent, you should look for another seller or buyer.


Tips on Preventing Facebook Marketplace Scams

Now that we've gone over some of the most common Facebook Marketplace scams, let's talk about how to avoid becoming a victim of one. Follow the tips below in order to safeguard yourself from cyberattacks on Facebook Marketplace.


1. Check the seller's profile and reviews.

Checkout the seller or buyer on Facebook to ensure that their profile is not fake to scam people like you. A very recently set up account with zero or a couple of friends and an empty profile is a red flag.

If you've found a seller, read their comments. Once a seller has received five or more comments, their reviews are made public. We suggest not to purchase expensive items from new sellers without visible review.


2. Don't believe "too good to be true" offers

Consider whether the deal you found on a luxury item appears "too good to be true"”it frequently is. You may be buying defective products or paying a deposit for a fake posting without realizing it. Too-good-to-be-true deals are available in all forms and sizes, but they frequently involve expensive items including jewelry and clothing from high-end brands.

For example, selling fake high-end watches on Facebook Marketplace is quite common. So much so that it motivates some people, such as a few dedicated forum members from this specialist watch forum, to search for and report fake listings.


3. Use trustworthy payment options.

Do not make payments to anyone using gift cards on Facebook Marketplace. If they con you or don't deliver the promised goods, it's extremely hard to find them using a gift card. It's much preferred to have proof of payment in the form of a wire transfer or a PayPal receipt.

If offered, always use Facebook Pay to make payments, especially because some products are qualified for Purchase Protection that way.


4. Don't scan QR codes when receiving money.

Never scan a QR code sent to you by a potential buyer under the guise of receiving money from your bank in this manner. Scanning QR codes is not for receiving money, but paying for it!


5. Think before you deposit.

Always keep in mind you trust the seller before you pay a deposit on a product. We suggest only paying a deposit for items that are from a reputable seller.

If you are asked for a deposit, consider whether this is appropriate for the product in question and, if so, whether the amount is reasonable in relation to the total value.


6. Use Facebook Messenger to communicate.

Facebook suggests always using Facebook Messenger to contact buyers and sellers. In this manner, you will have a document of your interaction in the event of a dispute.

Of course, you can also interact using email, WhatsApp, or a similar communication platform. The vital thing is that you don't just agree to a bunch of details over the phone and have no evidence to support it


Conclusion

As you shop or sell online, keep an eye out for signs of scams and immediately take action.

Keep in mind that if a situation seems too good to be true, it most probably is. Scammers target your desire for deals to steal information, money, or items. But by implementing these tips, you'll be in a better position to safeguard yourself.

Make sure you're protected if a scammer gains access to your account, snatches your credit card details, or directs you to a malware link.

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