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Facebook Marketplace scams
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Avoid this clever scam tactic being used on Facebook Marketplace

Whenever you deal with strangers online, you must be vigilant for scammers. While social media platforms are popular hunting grounds, criminals have equal success with online classified websites.

Every month there seems to be a new Facebook Marketplace trick or eBay scam looking to steal your money or personal information. Some are easy to spot, but criminals often change tactics to disguise their motives.

Read on for the latest scam gaining traction on Facebook Marketplace and what you can do about it.

Here’s the backstory

Savvy social media users know when to break off contact if something doesn’t seem appropriate. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of people who regularly fall victim to scams. Facebook Marketplace is rife with criminals, and a listener to Kim’s show found out just how devious they can be.

The listener had put an item up for sale on Facebook’s Marketplace and, not long after, got an offer from someone. Suspiciously, the supposed buyer didn’t ask any questions and merely stated that he wanted to buy the item.

When it got time to pay, the buyer indicated that he wanted to do so through the Zelle digital payment system. That isn’t an unusual request, but a few minutes later, the listener got a message saying that “the buyer needs to increase the transfer limit by $500 to make the account legitimate.”

Essentially, the message implied that the buyer must pay $500 more to validate their account. Fortunately, the listener kept his wits about him.

What you can do about it

The buyer claimed to have received the same message. So the buyer offered to pay $500 more than the item’s asking price on the condition that the seller sent the extra money back to his account later. But that is the core of the scam, as the initial proof of payment is fraudulent.

As the listener explained to Kim, “If I went further, I bet my $500 sent (to him) goes through, and his payment turns out to be a fake. I would have been out $500.” This scam isn’t anything new and is rampant on several online marketplaces.

Here are some things that you need to look out for before completing these types of transactions:

  • It should be a red flag if a buyer is interested in your item but doesn’t ask any questions. It is doubtful that they wouldn’t want to know a bit more about the condition, functions or the exact model of the item.
  • Never respond to strange messages that seemingly come from the platform that the buyer wants to use. As with the case above, it’s incredibly suspicious to receive communication that claims an increase in the limit “makes the account legitimate.”
  • While bargaining over the item’s price is expected, a buyer should never ask you to reimburse them if they “accidentally” paid you more than the asking price.
  • Never take a screenshot of a successful online payment at face value. Always verify that your bank is finished processing the payment and no reversal is activated.

If you have been scammed and sent payment through Zelle, report it to the platform here. You may also report the scammer directly to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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