Seven common Facebook Marketplace scams - Times Money Mentor (2024)

Facebook Marketplace lets users buy and sell second-hand items, and boasts more than one billion shoppers each month. Unfortunately, as well as shoppers it also attracts scammers, looking to take advantage of people on the hunt for a bargain. We outline Facebook Marketplace scams to watch out for, and how to protect yourself.

Facebook allows users to sell to each other and find second-hand bargains with its Marketplace function. You can buy pretty much anything it’s legal to sell – from couches to televisions and even cars – on Facebook Marketplace.

According to credit card company Capital One, more than a billion shoppers browse the site each month.

If you’re one of them, familiarising yourself with some of the site’s most common scams can ensure you don’t end up being a victim of fraud.

In this article, we cover:

  • Common ways you get scammed on Facebook Marketplace
  • How to know if a buyer is scamming you, and how to avoid it
  • How to report a Facebook Marketplace scam

Read more: Scams to watch out for right now

Seven common ways you can get scammed on Facebook Marketplace

There are a number of different ways that fraudsters can try to scam you via Facebook Marketplace whether you are a buyer or a seller. Here are some of the most common:

1. Fake payment confirmations

Some scammers send fake emails that look like they’re from PayPal or other payment services, confirming that they’ve paid for the item you’re selling. In reality, no transfer has been made. Always double-check your account to confirm the money has actually been sent before handing over goods.

2. Counterfeit currency

For in-person transactions, some buyers might pay you with counterfeit money. Always check that cash is legitimate before finalising a transaction.

3. Rental scams

Here, a scammer will upload a listing for a rental property that isn’t available or simply doesn’t exist. The scammer may provide a link to a legitimate-looking but entirely fake site, which may even be a replica of a real site, such as Booking.com. You’ll then be asked to enter your payment details for a deposit or rent. The scammer will disappear after the payment is taken.

If you’re looking for accommodation on Facebook Marketplace, insist on seeing the accommodation in person. Verify the rental contract with a legal expert where possible before any money changes hands.

4. Stolen goods

Many sellers attempt to sell stolen items on Facebook Marketplace. If you’re suspicious about the authenticity of something you’re buying, ask the seller for proof that it belongs to them, such as a receipt.

5. Attempts to steal your data

Scammers may attempt to steal your data in various nefarious ways. A phishing link might be sent for you to “verify your identity”, where you’ll be encouraged to provide sensitive information such as your date of birth and address.

Your data can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Scammers may choose to simply sell their victims’ data en masse, but in extreme instances may be able to use it to steal your identity.

Scammers can use your data to obtain credit cards and even apply for government benefits in your name. It’s crucial that you remain vigilant when sharing any data online with parties you don’t fully trust.

6. The scammer tells you they’ll send a courier to collect the item

In this instance, the scammer will pretend to be a buyer interested in your item. They’ll tell you they can’t come in person to collect it, so will send a courier with a company such as DPD in their stead. They may even send you a link to a fake website or an inauthentic email.

The scammer will then ask you to pay for insurance for the safe delivery of the item. After you’ve entered your card details or made a payment, they’ll disappear.

7. Faulty or damaged items

Often, when buying something on Facebook Marketplace, the transaction will be conducted in a speedy manner. You might meet in a neutral place, exchange goods and cash, and that’s that.

However, buying an item in person isn’t like purchasing something from a shop. You’re unlikely to get the same purchase protection, or the ability to return something with a receipt if it’s faulty.

This means you should exercise greater caution when purchasing on Facebook Marketplace. Make sure you’ve spent enough time with the item you’re buying to work out if there are any issues with it before handing over cash. If there are, and the seller is long-gone, you’re unlikely to recover any funds.

This applies particular to pricier items such as electronics and bicycles. Make sure all the key functions work properly. Check online to see if there are any common issues with the item you’re buying, and ask the seller to inspect the item for these potential quirks.

Read more: Your rights on Vinted and other online marketplaces

How to know if a buyer is scamming you, and how to avoid it

There are multiple red flags that may indicate that you’re dealing with a scammer. Not all of these are necessarily guarantees that a seller or buyer is being disingenuous, but a sign to be careful.

1. It seems too good to be true

If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of items priced significantly lower than their market value. The pair of Airpods Pro you see being flogged for £40 may seem like a stroke of luck, but in reality they’re likely to be fake or stolen, if they exist at all.

2. Pressure tactics

Scammers often create a sense of urgency, pressuring you to make quick decisions without proper care. For example, they may tell you that they have lots of other buyers interested, and you’ll need to make a payment quickly to secure an item.

Always take your time to verify that the other party is genuine. It’s better to have lost out on a good deal than to have lost your money.

3. Unusual payment methods

Be cautious if a buyer insists on using obscure payment methods or suggests transactions outside Facebook’s recommended methods.

One of these is PayPal, which lets you pay anybody with a PayPal account using its “Goods and Services” function.

When you do so, you can specify exactly what you’re making a payment for. That way, if what you receive isn’t as described or you don’t receive anything at all, you can open a dispute with the payment provider. PayPal can then refund you your money following an investigation.

4. Incomplete profiles or suspicious locations

If a buyer’s or seller’s profile looks new, with no friends or photos, and minimal interaction, this could be a red flag.

An older profile with a substantial friend list and Facebook “likes” on their photos can be a good sign. This means the buyer or seller is willing to use a real account for a transaction, which means enhanced accountability if things go wrong.

It’s also worth checking where the Facebook user is based, by looking at their profile. If you can see they’re not based anywhere nearby, this could be an indication that you’re dealing with a scammer.

5. Refusing to meet face-to-face

For local sales, if a buyer or seller is reluctant to meet in person or suggests shipping an item that could easily be picked up, be cautious.

How to report a Facebook Marketplace scam

  1. Report the listing. Find the specific Marketplace listing you want to report. Click on the “…” or “More Options” link, normally found at the top right of the post. From the drop down menu, select ‘Report this listing’ and then follow the on-screen instructions.
  2. Report the user. Go to the Facebook profile of the user you want to report. Click on the “…” or ‘More Options’ link, usually under their cover photo. Select “Find support or report” and follow the on-screen instructions.
  3. Record all conversations. Before reporting a user or scam, make sure to save or screenshot any suspicious conversations or transactions. This can come in handy later on if Facebook or the police need more information.
  4. Contact the police. If you’re a victim of a scam, it’s essential to report it to your local police, especially if you’ve lost money or an item with substantial value. They may be able to recover your item or apprehend the perpetrator.
  5. Submit feedback to Facebook. If you experience a scam or see a potential loophole that might be exploited by fraudsters, it’s always a good idea to provide feedback to Facebook. This helps them keep track of ongoing scams and improve their security measures.

For more information, check out Facebook’s official guidelines for staying safe while using Facebook Marketplace, so you can avoid scams.

Read more: 13 ways to boost your income

Important information

Some of the products promoted are from our affiliate partners from whom we receive compensation. While we aim to feature some of the best products available, we cannot review every product on the market.

Seven common Facebook Marketplace scams - Times Money Mentor (2024)

FAQs

How to know if someone is scamming you on Facebook Marketplace as a buyer? ›

Here are a few key signs you can watch out for that could indicate you are communicating with a scammer:
  1. Too good to be true: When a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is. ...
  2. Manufactured urgency: If you receive immediate messages from a buyer or seller urging you to act ASAP, exercise caution before proceeding.
Apr 24, 2024

How do you know if a buyer is scamming you? ›

How To Identify an Online Shopping Scam
  • The deal is too good to be true. ...
  • They only accept wire transfers and other non-reversible payments. ...
  • Sellers won't meet in person. ...
  • They send you low-quality photos. ...
  • Buyers send you prepaid shipping labels. ...
  • A buyer overpays for your product. ...
  • Asking for a deposit or prepayment.

Will Facebook refund my money if I was scammed? ›

If we approve a buyer's claim, in some situations, Facebook may offer a partial refund, otherwise the refunded amount will include the full purchase price of the item, tax, and shipping fees. Decisions on claims are made in our sole discretion. In some instances, we may offer a Goodwill Refund in our sole discretion.

What is the safest way to receive payment on Facebook Marketplace? ›

Local Pickup on Marketplace

Don't transfer money directly into a seller's bank account. Instead, offer to use a secure person-to-person payment site, such as PayPal or sending and receiving money in Messenger.

How to collect payments on Facebook Marketplace? ›

To receive payments from sales for your orders sold with shipping, you'll need to link your PayPal or bank account. To receive payments from Facebook (example: chargebacks, payments from buyer coupons, reimbursem*nts from appeals), you can only link your bank account.

What happens if a scammer has your phone number? ›

Once scammers know your number, they can target you with phishing texts and calls, or trick you into downloading malware and giving up personal information. And once they gain access to your personally identifiable information (PII), it doesn't take much more to access your financial (and other sensitive) accounts.

What to do after being scammed on Facebook Marketplace? ›

Report a Facebook Marketplace scam
  1. From your Feed, tap , then tap Marketplace.
  2. Tap at the top right.
  3. Tap Inbox, then tap Buying.
  4. Tap the listing that you want to report as a scam to open your messages with the seller.
  5. Tap the seller's photo.
  6. Tap , then tap Report.
  7. Tap Continue, then tap Scam.

Does Facebook protect you if you get scammed on Marketplace? ›

Purchase Protection is free, and automatically covers eligible orders. Purchase Protection means that you can request a refund if: You didn't receive your order. The product arrived damaged or different than described on the listing (example: the condition isn't accurate).

What does a refund scammer do? ›

A fraudulent actor swaps the price tag or barcode of a more expensive item with that of a cheaper one, making the purchase at the lower price, and then returns the item using the original, higher-priced receipt to receive a larger refund.

What is the safest way to receive money from a sale? ›

Personal checks are an excellent alternative to cash as a safe form of payment. However, they are not as good as cashier's checks because the potential for fraud is high. Unlike cashier's checks, there is no guarantee that the person's bank account has enough money to cover the check.

Why is Facebook Marketplace gone in 2024? ›

News: In 2024, users of Facebook Marketplace experienced difficulties accessing the platform due to a range of issues such as safety verifications, age restrictions, and geographic limitations. Consequently, violating the rules set by Facebook could result in account blocks.

What is the safest form of payment when selling something? ›

If the item is of significant value, a cashier's check should also suffice. To avoid confusion down the road, make it clear in your ad and in your conversations with a potential buyer that you will only accept cash. Mobile payments apps such as Venmo or PayPal are also a safer payment option.

Does Facebook Marketplace have buyer protection? ›

Purchase Protection is free, and automatically covers eligible orders. Purchase Protection means that you can request a refund if: You didn't receive your order. The product arrived damaged or different than described on the listing (example: the condition isn't accurate).

How to report Facebook Marketplace scammer buyer? ›

To report a buyer:
  1. From your News Feed, in the left menu, click Marketplace.
  2. Click Your Account.
  3. Click Your Listings.
  4. Click a listing the buyer purchased.
  5. Click the message between you and the buyer. If you can't find the message, click See More.
  6. Click .
  7. Click Report Buyer.
  8. Follow the on-screen instructions.

How to buy from Facebook Marketplace safely? ›

To help promote your safety, we encourage you to review the following tips for buying and selling responsibly, in addition to using your best judgment:
  1. Meeting in-person. ...
  2. Clean and disinfect items. ...
  3. Learn which items are not allowed on Facebook. ...
  4. Review the seller's profile. ...
  5. Consider delivery options for Marketplace items.

Should I only accept cash on Facebook Marketplace? ›

For example, the “buyer" may ask for your banking information to wire money. And you can communicate with the buyer through the Facebook app, so there is no need to share your phone number. Here are some other tips to avoid scammers: Accept only cash, Venmo, Zelle, PayPal, or credit cards as a payment method.

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