Facebook Marketplace may be a good way to find great deals or earn extra cash, but it is also rife with scams. Like on any other online shopping platform, you need to know how to stay safe and avoid getting ripped off. Watch out for, stay away from, and/or report sellers and buyers who engage in the following suspicious, fraudulent, or deceptive practices.
Item shipped is different from what was advertised
A common scam in online shopping is to falsely offer valuable products from popular brands at affordable prices. When you receive the item you bought, you’ll discover it is counterfeit. Or it does not have the features mentioned in the product listing. Or, worse, the item may not even arrive. Before paying, always do some research and verify the item is authentic and works as intended.
Seller wants gift cards as payment
As soon as you divulge the gift card number and accompanying security code, the seller will abruptly end communication and redeem the gift card balance for themselves. Like with wire transfer scams, there’s little to no chance of getting back your money from redeemed gift cards.
Buyer claims to have overpaid
The scammer may show they’ve sent payment with an amount that is more than what is expected. They then make some excuse for the mistake and ask the seller to send a refund of the surplus. If the seller is not careful, the supposed payment may bounce or that the shown receipt or proof of payment turns out to be fake.
- How to set up Facebook Marketplace product alerts
- How to protect your account from Facebook Malicious Tagging
- How to backup/download all your Facebook photos and videos
- 5 things to do before deleting your Facebook account
Buyer insists advance shipment of the product
Under the pretense of ensuring they receive genuine products and avoid getting scammed, the scammers will insist that the seller ships the items first before they make payment. But of course, the scammers won’t fulfill their part of the bargain and just make away with the shipped item.
Seller insists advance payment
Similarly, a scammer pretending to be a legitimate seller may insist that you make an initial deposit first before they ship the item. But victims who give in to the demand will never receive the item. If they sent money without any form of purchase protection, they’ll also lose their money. Also watch out for sellers who claim to offer incentives, freebies, and giveaways if you pay upfront.
Scammer asks for personal information and verification codes
Pretending to be taking precautions themselves, scammers may ask you to prove your identity by asking for personal details. What they’re really doing is harvesting your information that they’ll use for identity theft in the future. If you’ve shared your contact number, be wary if they ask you to send them one-time passwords (OTP) you may receive via SMS. They may be attempting to log into your online accounts using your phone number.
Scammer hijacks someone else’s account
Legitimate users may unknowingly be selling fraudulent items on Facebook if hackers have managed to hijack their accounts. These hackers do not usually honor what they promised to buyers, who upon learning they’ve been had will then wrongly blame the hijacked users.
Seller offers mystery boxes
Mystery boxes are a scam. You pay for a package that contains secret items, which the seller claims to include smartphones and high-end gadgets, if you’re lucky. But in reality, you’ll receive random trash that won’t be useful to you. This is simply a form of gambling where you’re guaranteed to lose. So don’t be tempted to buy mystery boxes, even if they’re endorsed by your favorite streamers and influencers.
Seller baits you to buying other items
Another fraudulent practice in online shopping is bait and switch advertising. A seller lists an item with a tempting price but intentionally fails to disclose that essential modules and accessories of the product are priced separately. Or the seller may list a product for sale but claim that it has sold out when you inquire about it, after which the seller then lures you into buying a more expensive item.
Products have unbelievably low prices
A common occurrence, at least in my case, is that items listed on Facebook Marketplace have very cheap prices. Some are tagged with P1.00. Some are even listed as free. Among other reasons, this is simply to abuse the price sorting system in Marketplace to increase exposure.