Scams On Facebook Marketplace and How to Safely Sell Online

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In recent years, Facebook Marketplace has become a bustling online hub for buying and selling goods. However, whereas a physical marketplace may be a hub for pickpocketing, an online marketplace is a whole other ball game. In 2021, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) reported that Facebook Marketplace was the online marketplace of choice for scammers - and it’s estimated that there are over 1.2 billion users today.


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Therefore, users who engage in buying and selling online need to be vigilant and aware of potential scams. In this blog, we'll explore some common Facebook Marketplace scams, how to recognize and avoid them, and crucial tips for both buyers and sellers to ensure a safe and secure experience.

Common Facebook Marketplace scams

Some of the most common Facebook Marketplace scams are as follows:

  • Phishing scams: Scammers may send phishing links that lead users to fake websites, tricking them into entering sensitive information.
  • Overpayment scams: In this scam, a buyer sends more money than the agreed-upon price and requests a refund. The initial payment, however, is fraudulent.
  • Fake merchandise: Sellers may advertise high-demand items at attractive prices but deliver counterfeit or non-existent products.
  • Identity Theft scams: Scammers might attempt to gather personal information or manipulate users into revealing sensitive details, in order to conduct identity theft.

Buyer & seller scams on Facebook Marketplace

There are some scams that are specific to Facebook Marketplace buyers and sellers such as:

  • Non-delivery scams: Buyers pay for an item but never receive it. Scammers may provide fake tracking information to deceive the buyer.
  • Product misrepresentation: Sellers may exaggerate the condition or features of an item to make a sale.
  • Payment scams: Scammers may use fake payment methods, and once the product is delivered, the payment bounces.
  • False promises: Sellers might promise features or conditions that differ from the actual product.

“I got scammed on Facebook Marketplace! What can I do?”

If you suspect that you have been a victim of Facebook Marketplace scams, here are some steps you can take:

  • Step 1 - Document everything: Collect all relevant information, including screenshots of the listing, communications with the seller, and details of the transaction.
  • Step 2 - Contact the seller: Attempt to communicate with the seller to address the issue directly. They may be unaware of the problem or willing to resolve it.
  • Step 3 - Report the seller on Facebook: Go to the seller's profile. Click on the three dots (...) on their cover photo and then select "Find support or report profile." Then follow the prompts to report the seller.
  • Step 4 - Report the listing: If the scam is related to a specific listing, report the listing itself. Click on the three dots (...) on the listing, select "Find support or report listing," and follow the on-screen instructions.
  • Step 5 - Contact your payment provider: If you made a payment through a platform like PayPal or another payment service, contact them to report the scam and inquire about potential chargebacks or refunds.
  • Step 6 - Report to authorities: If you believe the Facebook Marketplace scam involves illegal activity, consider reporting it to local law enforcement or the appropriate authorities.
  • Step 7 - Reach Out to Facebook Support: Visit Facebook's Help Center and explore the available support options. Report the scam and seek assistance from Facebook's support team.
  • Step 8 - Review the Facebook Marketplace Buyer Protection Policy: Facebook Marketplace doesn't have a formal buyer protection policy. However, users are encouraged to report Facebook Marketplace scams promptly, and Facebook takes action against fraudulent accounts.
  • Step 9 - Seek Legal Advice: If the amount involved is significant, consider consulting with legal professionals to explore potential legal actions.

Remember, the effectiveness of these steps may vary, and there's no guarantee of recovering funds.


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How to prevent Facebook Marketplace scams

Of course, the best thing you can do is to take preventative measures so that you do not fall victim to a Facebook Marketplace scam in the first place. Whether you are a buyer or seller, follow the tips below to stay safe on Facebook Marketplace.

The safest way to receive payment on Facebook Marketplace

If you are a Facebook Marketplace seller, take precautions when receiving your payment:

  • Use Meta Pay: Utilize Meta Pay, a secure and integrated payment method within the platform.
  • Avoid wiring money: Never agree to wire money or use unconventional payment methods.

How to safely sell on Facebook Marketplace

Similarly, follow these tips to safely sell on Facebook Marketplace:

  • Meet in public places: Choose well-lit, public locations for in-person transactions.
  • Cash transactions: If possible, opt for cash payments during face-to-face exchanges.
  • Verify buyer/seller profiles: Check the buyer's or seller's profile for credibility, including their transaction history and ratings.

Prevention is crucial, so always be cautious when dealing with online transactions, use secure payment methods, and verify the legitimacy of sellers and listings before making any payments. Additionally, report scams promptly to help protect other users in the community.

How to recognize fake buyers on Facebook Marketplace

The other important element to watch out for is fake buyers on Facebook Marketplace. Here are some tips to help you identify potential fake buyers:

  • Incomplete or generic profiles: Fake buyers on Facebook Marketplace often have incomplete or generic profiles. Check for profiles with limited information, no profile picture, or generic names.
  • Limited activity on Facebook: Review the buyer's Facebook activity. Fake profiles may have very few friends, limited posts, or recent account creation.
  • Unusual communication patterns: Be wary of buyers who communicate in a way that seems automated or unnatural. Look out for generic responses or requests for personal information.
  • Request for unusual payment methods: Fake buyers may insist on using unconventional payment methods or request wire transfers. Legitimate buyers typically use standard payment options like Meta Pay or cash.
  • Too good to be true offers: Be cautious if the buyer is offering an unusually high price, especially if it's significantly above the market value. Scammers may use attractive offers to lure sellers.
  • Pressure tactics: Watch out for buyers who use pressure tactics, such as urgent requests for immediate transactions or attempts to rush the process. Scammers often try to create a sense of urgency.
  • Reluctance to meet in person: If a buyer is hesitant to meet in person for a local transaction, it could be a red flag. Scammers may avoid face-to-face interactions to conceal their identity.
  • Check their transaction history: Review the buyer's transaction history on Facebook Marketplace. If they have a history of suspicious behavior, it's a warning sign.
  • Verify contact information: Legitimate buyers should be willing to provide verifiable contact information. If a buyer avoids sharing a valid phone number or email, exercise caution.
  • Google search: Perform a quick Google search of the buyer's name or contact details. Scammers may use the same information across multiple scams.
  • Trust your instincts: If something feels off or too good to be true, trust your instincts. If a buyer raises any doubts or concerns, it's better to err on the side of caution.
  • Facebook Marketplace reviews: Check if the buyer has positive or negative reviews from previous transactions on Facebook Marketplace. While not foolproof, reviews can provide insights into their reliability.
  • Be skeptical of no-show buyers: If a buyer consistently fails to show up for scheduled meet-ups, it could be a sign of a fake buyer on Facebook Marketplace.


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How to report a scammer on Facebook Marketplace

Reporting a scammer on Facebook Marketplace is crucial for maintaining a safe online environment and protecting other users from falling victim to fraudulent activities. Before reporting, make sure you have identified the user as a scammer. Look for suspicious behavior, unrealistic deals, requests for payment outside of Facebook, or any other red flags.

  • Step 1: Open the Facebook app on your mobile device or go to the Facebook website on your computer, and navigate to the Marketplace section.
  • Step 2: Locate the specific listing or the profile of the user you believe is involved in scamming. You can do this by browsing through Marketplace or using the search function.
  • Step 3: On the listing or user's profile, look for the three dots (...) usually located near the seller's name or on the listing itself. Click on these dots to access the options menu.
  • Step 4: In the menu, you should see an option that says "Find support or report listing." Click on this option to proceed.
  • Step 5: Facebook will provide a list of reasons for reporting. Select the most relevant option related to scamming or fraudulent activity. Common options may include "Suspicious activity" or "Scam." Facebook may prompt you to provide additional details about the scam. Be specific in explaining why you believe the user or listing is a scam. Include any relevant information, such as screenshots or messages.
  • Step 6: Once you have provided the necessary information, submit the report. Facebook will review the report and take appropriate action if they find a violation of their policies.
  • Step 7: If the scam involves illegal activities or poses a serious threat, consider reporting the incident to local law enforcement or relevant authorities.
  • Step 8: To protect yourself, block the scammer to prevent further communication. Avoid sharing personal information and cease any ongoing transactions with the reported user.

By staying vigilant and paying attention to scam warning signs, you can reduce the risk of dealing with fake buyers, fake sellers, and other scams on Facebook Marketplace. Always prioritize safety, use secure payment methods, and conduct transactions in public, well-lit locations. If something feels suspicious, it's best to avoid the transaction altogether.

Additionally, it’s recommended to use cybersecurity solutions that enhance your online shopping experience. For example, if you are using public Wi-Fi, make sure to use a VPN such as RAV VPN. If you are worried that you were a victim of an online scam and identity theft may have occurred, you should install the Online Security browser extension, which contains features such as Dark Web Monitoring, allowing you to check if your details have been leaked on the dark web.

Ultimately, Facebook Marketplace offers a convenient platform for buying and selling, but users must learn to recognizecommon scams, and report suspicious activity as soon as possible. Following safety guidelines can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to fraudulent schemes. By fostering a secure community, users contribute to a positive experience for everyone on Facebook Marketplace.


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