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Facebook marketplace scams

Being scammed out of your hard-earned cash is a learning experience none of us want. Unfortunately, Facebook marketplace scammers have several techniques to trick you into giving away something incriminating. Is Facebook marketplace safe? It can be, but you have to follow the right rules.

Charles Whitmore

Charles Whitmore

Facebook marketplace scams

What are Facebook marketplace scams?

There are quite a few methods a Facebook scammer can use to steal your money or credentials. Modern cybercriminals will often resort to social engineering to trick unwitting consumers into falling for scams. By relying on a victim’s craving for the cheapest deal, a scammer can fool someone into a false sense of security.

Here are some of the most common Facebook marketplace scams you might come across.

  • Bootleg items/broken items. A seller will offer branded items or the latest tech at bargain prices. More often than not, if tech is selling at far below the market price, it’s probably broken. Similarly with branded goods, if a $500 dollar handbag is selling for $50, it’s either bootleg or stolen.
  • Mail scams. A buyer will try and talk you into sending the item first, perhaps for testing or compatibility purposes. Once the item is sent and received, the buyer mysteriously vanishes without sending the money or returning the item. Alternatively, Facebook marketplace shipping scams are when a seller will request shipping payment, then never send the item.
  • Payment scams. A buyer will overpay for an item and want a refund of the overpayment back. Sounds simple enough, but this scam involves the buyer specifically using checks. With a check, the buyer attempts to trick the seller by sending bogus payment. The unwitting seller would send the overpayment refund and only realize too late that the check received would bounce. For other items, a seller might request advance payments or a deposit to secure the goods. Unless you’ve handled the item in person yourself, it’s best to ignore such requests.
  • Facebook marketplace car scams are quite common types of payment scams, too. A seller will request a down payment or deposit on a car then provide a fake address of pickup once the money has been sent.

I got scammed on Facebook marketplace. What now?

So your money is gone and the item isn’t turning up — you’ve definitely been scammed. The first step is to report the seller to Facebook. Facebook marketplace are constantly taking down fake listings and fraudulent sellers, unfortunately some still make it through the filter. Report the seller and hope the admins take care of business quickly.

The Facebook protection service will help if you’ve tried contacting the seller and reached a dead end. Facebook will directly refund the purchase if it can be proved that:

  • The item didn’t arrive.
  • The item was damaged/not what was advertised.
  • The seller isn’t following their own refund policy.
  • The purchase was made accidentally.

If the merchant is nearby and has been known to cheat others out of their money, it might be worth reporting them to the local authorities, too.

The next step is making sure you don’t fall victim to a scammer again. First, you need to know how to spot them.

How to recognize a Facebook scammer

Luckily, the signs of a Facebook scammer are easy to recognize once you know what to look for. Keep in mind, however, that social engineering is a large part of what makes marketplace scams successful. Cybercriminals are looking for new ways to hook your attention and sway your sense of judgment. Always be on your lookout for deals that just seem too good to be true — they usually are.

Spotting a Facebook scammer isn’t as hard as you think. Here’s what to keep an eye out for:

  • Overly cheap items. If an item is marketed as far below the usual market price, it typically means something fishy is going on. If it’s tech, the item could be broken. If it’s clothing or sneakers, they could be bootleg. If it’s cheap and seems genuine, keep in mind it could be stolen.
  • Seller refuses to meet in person. If a seller refuses to meet you in a public space, then move on and look for another merchant. It’s always smart to inspect your item in person first. If the seller refuses, then the item they’re advertising is probably phony.
  • Seller or buyer doesn’t use official communication. Some Facebook scammers will hijack other Facebook accounts and use the stolen profile to sell phony goods. By avoiding talking through Messenger, the scammer reduces the chance of the victim finding out.
  • Suspicious item listings. Does the seller have the same item up for sale in multiple different locations, some multiple states or counties apart? The items are probably fraudulent.
  • Seller refuses to use the Facebook checkout service or PayPal. The Facebook checkout service is specifically there to avoid fraudulent transactions. If a seller is avoiding that aspect altogether, it’s a good sign they’re a scammer.

How to not get scammed on Facebook marketplace

So now that you can spot an internet scam, it’s time to implement what you know to guarantee never being the victim. Here’s what you need to do to avoid Facebook marketplace fraud and robbery.

  • Always use official payment methods. Using the Facebook checkout service or PayPal is the smart choice for any tech-savvy marketplace regulars. If you can, pay with a credit card. It’s easier to claim back fraudulent payments.
  • Receive payment first. Don’t send off anything without getting money for shipping and the item.
  • Pay attention to seller ratings. The star rating is there for a reason, use it liberally to aid your fellow marketplace attendants. If a seller has a low rating, it usually means not to trust them.
  • Don’t accept overpayment. No matter how nice the buyer seems or how genuine the excuse they provide is, never fall for this trick.
  • Be wary of phishing scams. Some cybercriminals will redirect a link to a credential-stealing site or instruct you to accidentally download some malware. Don’t click on anything suspicious.

How safe is Facebook marketplace?

Facebook marketplace is about as safe as any other buying and selling site on the internet. It all relies on the user’s own knowledge and experience. If you pay attention to all the signs, you probably won’t get snagged in any scammer’s trap.

However, it can’t hurt to cloak yourself in an extra layer of protection. That’s where NordVPN comes in. Not only will your online activity be hidden by next-level encryption, but you’ll also have access to Threat Protection.

Threat Protection has a blacklist of known malware-ridden websites. As soon as your browser is about to access the site, Threat Protection will kick in and prevent you from entering. It can also protect you by blockings ads and online trackers.

Other threats on Facebook

Facebook, being the social media giant that it is, has its fair share of cybercriminals to deal with. The threats users face online don’t only stem from the marketplace.

  • Expect a data breach. It happens every few years, and you can probably expect that your data will be revealed in a data breach at some point in the future.
  • Spam messages with suspicious links. What is spam on Facebook? You’ll typically receive messages from someone you trust, urging you to click on a link, or download a file. Should you click on it, you could potentially infect yourself with malware.
  • Oversharing personal information. Hackers will often stalk their victims’ profiles, absorbing every piece of personal information that can be gleaned from your own words or photos. Be careful how much you share on Facebook and remember how that information can be used against you.

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Charles Whitmore
Charles Whitmore Charles Whitmore
Charles is a content writer with a passion for online privacy and freedom of knowledge. A technophile with a weakness for full Smart Home integration – he believes everyone should strive to keep up-to-date with their cybersec.