Breaking News
More () »

Scammers targeting buyers, sellers through Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace is a platform to save some cash by finding a good deal or earn some cash by getting rid of items, but look out for scams.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Facebook Marketplace is a platform to buy and sell goods. It can be a great way to save some cash by finding a good deal, or earn some cash by getting rid of items you no longer use. 

It’s also become a place where scammers look for prey.

“Scammers are very good at what they do,” said Katie Grevious, the marketing and community relations manager with the Better Business Bureau.

This is making some scams even harder to detect.

“You can’t always trust the other person on the other end of the computer,” said Grevious.

Those interested in buying or selling items are at risk.

For sellers, Grevious suggests you do your research on any potential buyers.

“If they just created a profile a week ago or a month ago, that’s a huge red flag that maybe this is not somebody who they say they are.”

One ongoing scam targets sellers and their personal information. The first red flag is when the buyer no longer wants to communicate through Facebook Marketplace.

“That lets places like Facebook Marketplace keep track of those conversations, and so then if you are scammed or something else happens, they have that record of your communication with the user that you were communicating with and they can do more with that,” said Grevious.

The so-called buyer will instead ask to communicate by text, and will then ask that you prove you’re a real person wanting to send a code to your mobile device. This code being sent is actually being used to create a Google Voice phone number with your information.

Grevious explained, “Really what they’re doing is using that information to create another identity with your information so that they then scam other people.” She adds, “You just don’t want to share any personal information with someone you don’t know,” and that this includes “your address, your phone number, even your email address.”

She continued, “Even if you don’t feel like there’s a risk. Even if you’re not giving out the username and password. We’ve all seen the show Catfish. People can pretend to be whoever they want to be.”

There are also risks for buyers.

“First and foremost, look at that price. Does it seem too good to be true, what they’re offering and how much they’re asking for?” said Grevious.

When it comes to making your payment, “always avoid paying with gift cards or wire transfers because, again, those are untraceable and those are a huge red flag and likely a scam,” said Grevious. “Facebook Marketplace has their own special payment method that you can use and it’s a secure transaction. Now, not every seller is going to offer that. So, unfortunately, again, that’s where you enter that ‘do at your own risk.’”

When making purchases through Facebook Marketplace, there are also warnings about scams surrounding popular peer-to-peer payment methods like Zelle, CashApp or Venmo. In one scenario, buyers claim they’ve paid too much, even using fake screenshots to show you proof of payment, and will then ask you to return the difference. Victims have paid back money only to realize there had never been any original payment.

Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.

Have a news tip? Email news@13onyourside.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Before You Leave, Check This Out