Facebook Marketplace SCAMS
by Tracy E. Hill, Ph.D.
I recently listed a half dozen bookcases, on Facebook Marketplace to sell locally. Within thirty seconds, my phone buzzed and blinged with more than a dozen potential buyers! I was super psyched to get rid of these annoying bookcases that were taking up way too much room in my garage.
In FB Marketplace ads, I always add a line that says if it’s posted, it’s available because personally I find it quite annoying when potential buyers use the standard FB reply “Is this item still available?” People, if it’s listed, it’s available.
More than 90% of the inquiries of course asked if the bookcases were still available. Annoying. I responded with a simple “Y.”
Then nearly all of the inquiries asked me for my cell phone number. I thought that was odd, since they didn’t ask anything else about the bookshelves first. Okay. I messaged back my cell phone number. And then the scam begins.
Within seconds of receiving my cell phone, the buyers then told me they would “send me a code and I should give them the code so they could verify I was a real person.” Hmmmm. Getting a google code which specifies “do not share this code with anyone” seemed fairly scammish. But, I decided to play along and see what happens. I got several codes from several scammers. But refused to give them the code. They got angry. I then checked eight of the scammers FB profiles and lo and behold, two of the eight had the exact same profile picture of the “perfect American family.” And none of the scammers actually had a profile, just a profile picture.
So what’s the scam? I couldn’t quite figure it out. I then researched it and discovered that they request your code, and use that to set up a false Google Voice number using your phone number. What this does, I’m not really sure. But there was no way I was going to risk finding out!
Seller beware. FB Marketplace has become the new Craigslist of scammers. Here are some other scams I found common on Facebook:
1) Requesting advanced payments or monies. If you pay for anything before receiving the item, you are being scammed. No ticket, no show as they say. Don’t pay for anything you do not get in hand.
2) Getting overpaid. Crazy but some people will try to “overpay” you and then ask for the refund of the difference. The problem is they didn’t overpay at all. They used counterfeit funds in the first place to get your refund money back to them.
3) Selling fake items. As the saying goes, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” If you think you’re getting a great deal on a designer item, most likely it’s a knock off and not the real thing.
4) It’s always best to sell items local. Sending anything or expecting to receive something you’ve already purchased is simply the perfect scam.
I’m sure there are many more scams out there. But buyer beware. If it feels odd, it probably is. Steer away. When I asked FB what can be done to report these scammers, here’s what a representative told me:
“To report a seller on Facebook Marketplace, click the Marketplace icon in the left-hand corner of your screen, click the listing from the seller that you want to report, and then click on the name of the seller. From there, click the three-dot icon and select Report Seller; then follow the on-screen instructions. You can also alert the Federal Trade Commission and Internet Crime Complaint Center if you lost money.”
Happy shopping and selling!
Photo credit by Glen Carrie (Johannesburg , South Africa) @cocopineSA