14 Facebook Marketplace Scams You Should Know About

Facebook Marketplace has been around since 2016.  Just like legitimate people who are buying and selling through the app, scammers are well aware of the potential. Research says 17% of people who used the marketplace were scammed in 2021, and six fake accounts were posted every minute.

But a potential buyer or seller needs some perspective because One billion people access this tool every month.

What is a Facebook Marketplace Scam?

Scammers use a variety of techniques on this Facebook platform. They pretend to sell goods and services that don’t exist along with transactions ending up in a delivery scam, or a phishing scheme targeting potential buyers. Scammers are also fond of the bait and switch, and ‘selling’ an expensive item for a low price.

In Q2 2022 alone, Facebook tackled 1.4 billion bad accounts. That makes marketplace scams too common.

Read on so you can stay safe, only deal with other legitimate users, and spot the red flags.

How to Avoid Scams on Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace has some protections in place. But there are risks just like any peer-to-peer site. Here are a few things that you can do to avoid a bad sale or purchasing a counterfeit or defective item on the site.

  1. You can Google the seller’s email address to see if it has been used for fraud in the past.
  2. If you’re renting watch out for multiple listings and multiple photos of the same property listed on different websites.
  3. Car scammers will try to forge documents from eBay’s vehicle protection program to use on the Facebook site.
  4. Watch out for sellers who refused to meet you in person.

facebook marketplace scams

Be Aware of These Common Facebook Marketplace Scams

There are bad actors that can victimize you or a family member. The following list covers several of the biggest issues, but these aren’t the only ones.

1. Facebook Marketplace Zelle Scams

This Zelle app lets the buyer or someone selling send money between banks in just minutes. There are no background queries here. You just need a receiver’s email address and phone number.

Fake screen captures and documentation is used by scammers to entice the victim to send a refund. A crook might ask you to upgrade an account first. Contact Zelle to verify.

2. Facebook Marketplace Shipping Scams

Scammers ask that a buyer pay for the item, shipping costs and insurance. A scammer can even send a fake invoice for the money. The crook will disappear once they get the payment.

Watch out for this one when the transaction is by mail. Remember, shipping on Facebook is covered. Other peer-to-peer methods aren’t.

3. Facebook Marketplace Buyer Scams

There are many different buyer cheats that will try and take your money. Some will ask you to pay outside of Facebook. Payments made through Facebook Checkout and PayPal are covered.

If you want to read reseller reviews, you can only get them through an Android or iPhone app. You won’t be able to access them through a mobile browser or computer. There’s likely a buyer scam afoot if someone agrees to everything in your listing without any negotiations or questions.

4. Facebook Marketplace Car Scams

Facebook users highlight several scams they immediately report. Like asking for a deposit and then supplying a fake address when it’s time to meet up.

Get the car inspected first. Check The Kelley Blue Book or other trusted online platforms for price. You can even contact the Federal Trade Commission for a vehicle history report.

5. PayPal Facebook Marketplace Scams

You need to be careful even when using trusted payment methods. Scammers try to get you to use PayPal’s friends and family payment option. That’s outside of the company’s purchase protection policy.

You can wind up with a defective or fake item from the seller. Without the company’s protection, crooks have the payment, and they are gone.

6. Facebook Marketplace Phone Number Scam

Scammers respond to one of your listings here. They want to be sure you’re a real person and your account is credible. Crooks want your phone number to text a verification code. They ask you to reply with the code on the platform you listed the product on. Here’s what’s really going on.

The scammer is setting up a Google voice number and they can complete an account setup when you send the code back. The scammer can set up new accounts in your name with that information.

Whether you’re a buyer or seller you don’t need to give out personal information like your phone number.

7. Facebook Marketplace Overpaying The Seller Scams

The buyer uses a stolen credit card. They pay the seller more than was asked for. Then they request a partial refund. The victim returns the overage amount but the original payment gets declined by a bank. The money never goes into the seller’s account. But they have to pay it back nevertheless.

The solution is easy. Decline any overpayments.

8. Listing Fake Rentals

Facebook users need to watch out for this scam if they’re looking for an apartment or other type of rental. Some fake listings use misleading pictures. Other scammers adopt bait and switch rental prices. Some scammers charge illegal fees for things like background checks.

Always tour the property to avoid this type of problem.

9. Fake Giveaways

Fake cryptocurrency giveaways getting posted on a crook’s profile lay a trap for this scam. Victims click on a link, malware gets downloaded, and hackers can get access to bank accounts and other information. Watch out for any links from sellers listing things that are too good to be true.

10. Inconsistent Pricing

Sellers change the price of an item on Facebook messenger after you’ve communicated with them. It’s also a sign that you might be dealing with a fake website.

Beware of inconsistent sellers. Changing the price is a big warning sign.

11. Lost Packages

Tracking information is the best way to avoid a lost package scam. Sellers can use a tracking number to dispute nondelivery claims. Buyers can use the same information since it will report exactly when the delivery should happen.

12. Broken and Bootleg Items

Users need to beware. You might think you’re getting a Gucci bag, but you could wind up with counterfeit items unless you’re careful. Meet the seller in a well-lit place. Inspect the item to make sure it’s not broken. Be aware of really low prices from any seller.

13. Unusual Payment Requests

You should only use certain methods to exchange money when you’re trying to sell or buy on the portal. Facebook Checkout and PayPal are good. Don’t select friends and family payments for PayPal. Stay away from other methods like wire transfers and remember to never pay for anything in advance

14. Paying in Advance

Crooks will try to get you to pay upfront. A crooked seller will try to convince you that’s the way to prove you’re serious. Buyers should beware of anyone who asks for the money upfront. Make sure to meet a seller in a public place so you can inspect the product

What to Do If You’ve Been Scammed on Facebook Marketplace

If you’ve been scammed, contact local law enforcement. Then go to the website to make a claim by following the steps and on-screen instructions. Remember, there are also purchase protection policies that complement any report.

Here are the steps.

  • Select settings from the drop-down menu.
  • Select Facebook pay and then payment history.
  • You can click on the order that you want to make a claim on.
  • Once you fill out a form on the site, you’ll get an email in response.

You can also report a seller or any buyers that have scammed you. You should report seller problems so their user ratings are affected. Buyers can view their own ratings on their Commerce profiles.

Should you give your number on Facebook Marketplace?

It’s not suggested. Whether you are purchasing something or making a sale, there is no need to give out personal information. Keep in mind that for the most part, these are perfect strangers. Use the same caution you would on any other site like craigslist or even eBay.

How can you know if a Facebook Marketplace buyer is legit?

Legitimate buyers don’t ask for additional money. If they even ask for an extra small fee, it’s a red flag. Take a look at their profile to make sure it’s credible. High-quality photos are a good indication a buyer is reputable.

Will Facebook refund your money if you are scammed?

Facebook suggests you get in touch with the seller first. If things don’t go well with them, you’ll need to supply proof of return to get a purchase protection refund.

How safe is Facebook Checkout?

Credentials and payments are kept encrypted and secure. Activity is secured on your profile unless you choose to share it. Here are some of the commerce eligibility requirements.

Can you be scammed on Facebook Marketplace?

There is always the chance that you can be scammed on this site. But there are some tips that can keep you safe from counterfeit funds, shipping scams, and other problems with payment issues.

We’ve covered a lot of what you need to watch out for. And what you need to do when you’ve been a victim. Start out by making sure you’re in the right place. Look through the appropriate menu and then tap on the marketplace icon to get information.


Image: Envato Elements

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. He is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. His print credentials include employment with various Toronto area newspapers and three works of fiction: The Apple Lady (2004), Creekwater (2006) and Sophistry By Degrees (2008) published by Stonegarden Press In California.