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Facebook Marketplace scams
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Read this before you try to score a deal on Facebook Marketplace

Some social media platforms have made it easy for you to buy stuff from other members. Facebook Marketplace is one of the most popular. The problem is it’s littered with scammers.

Read on for five scams you must know about before buying anything on Facebook Marketplace.

The risks of Facebook Marketplace

Through the years, Facebook has morphed into a media giant interested in almost every aspect of our lives, including what we buy and sell.

Facebook Marketplace was first launched in 2016, allowing people to buy and sell locally. It might have had good intentions at the start, but it didn’t take long for scammers to see the value in the online marketplace.

According to cybersecurity company ESET, one in six people has been defrauded on the platform. To make that worse, there isn’t one scam to look out for, but several.  

Here are five ways Facebook Marketplace scammers will try to rip you off.

1. Communication off Facebook

One of the indications that you could be the target of a scammer is when they try to take the communication or payment method off Facebook. This is dangerous as there will be no record of messages on Facebook if something goes wrong.

Also, scammers might insist that you pay through untraceable methods such as cryptocurrencies or gift cards. A seller asking you to pay with gift cards should immediately be a red flag for you.

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2. Mailing items first

This scam is becoming increasingly common. Sellers will ask you to pay before they mail the item, but they often never do. This leaves you out of pocket, with no delivered item and very little you can do about it.

That’s why it might be best to meet the seller in a public space to exchange cash for the item. Realistically, having sellers be local is one major selling point of Facebook Marketplace. Why ship an item when you live in the same area?

But make sure you take safety precautions when meeting someone you meet online. Always meet in the light of day in a public place. If possible, bring a friend or relative to the meeting so you have a backup if something goes wrong.

3. Overpaying for items

This is a classic scheme that happens too often. Someone buys something from you online and sends you more than the asking price. They typically mail a check worth more than they were supposed to pay.

After they send the check, they let you know it was a mistake and ask you to send a refund for the overage. The problem is the check eventually bounces, and the money is taken from your bank account. Now you’re out the money for the purchase, the amount you refunded and the item you sent. Yikes!

This can also be done with electronic payments. The thief just needs to file a fraudulent charge request with their bank to have the charge reversed, and you’re left in the cold.

Your best option is not to refund money electronically. Tell the buyer to take it up with their bank. If it was an honest mistake and they sent a check for more than the asking price, give it at least a month to clear in your bank account before refunding the overpayment.

4. Fake profiles or items

You can access the profile of anybody selling items on Facebook Marketplace, but that can’t always be trusted. Many scammers create fake profiles and then list counterfeit items for sale. When someone buys a counterfeit item, there is no legitimate profile that Facebook can take action against.

Always look for seller reviews before buying anything on Facebook Marketplace. If a seller scammed someone, they most likely left a terrible review. If there are no reviews available, move on to the next seller.

5. Bait and switch pricing

Scammers often post high-value items for sale at prices that seem like a real bargain. But if you buy it, there’s a chance you don’t receive the item, or it’s counterfeit. That’s why it’s best to live by the rule if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Stick with realistic purchase prices, especially on high-end items.

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