Facebook Marketplace: How to Avoid Being Scammed
Craig Silverman, Chris Morran  and  Maya Eliahou (ProPublica) 27 September 2021
From suspiciously low prices to sellers who demand payment in gift cards, there are multiple warning signs a Marketplace listing might be fraudulent.
Even though Facebook Marketplace is backed by the power of the social networking giant, buying and selling items through the service can still carry the same risks as making purchases on other peer-to-peer platforms or through the classified ads of the local newspaper.
Buyers and sellers on Marketplace frequently know little about each other. Without taking sensible precautions, either party could end up being a victim of robbery or fraud. Some Marketplace users have had their goods or money stolen, while others have fallen prey to violent criminals they connected with through the popular reselling platform.
We have put together this guide to help you avoid getting scammed. There are several red flags buyers and sellers should be mindful of when shopping on Marketplace. Facebook has its own guide for Marketplace users, and we also talked to fraud experts to better understand the warning signs of a potential scam.
Before You Get Started
Online marketplaces are fertile ground for identity theft, and Facebook Marketplace is no exception, with scam artists quietly taking over legitimate user accounts to add authenticity to their cons. Facebook users, even those who never intend to use Marketplace, can minimize the likelihood of having their account stolen by setting up a security feature known as two-factor authentication. This requires account holders to verify new logins through a secondary device like a smartphone that only they can access, blocking most fraudsters from illicitly logging in to their accounts.
For Buyers: How to Spot a Seller Scam on Marketplace
The listing offers a suspiciously low price for a high-demand item.
If an item is rare or popular, but the seller is listing it as readily available and at a price that’s too good to be true, it likely is. Beware of Marketplace ads for in-demand tech like smartphones or video game consoles listed at or below their retail prices.
Similarly, while most cars don’t fall under the umbrella of “scarce,” a suspiciously low price tag on a vehicle should give the buyer pause for multiple reasons.
The seller will not meet you in person or let you see the item before purchase.
Many Marketplace transactions are local, such as a purchase of a used sofa from someone in the next town over. There are very few good reasons a seller would refuse to finalize the purchase in person, or would make you pay for the item without having seen it first.
The seller asks you to pay using gift cards for eBay or another company.
Gift cards may seem like an easy enough way to pay a seller who doesn’t want to be paid in cash or instant transfer. But legitimate sellers don’t ask to be paid in gift cards, and this request is usually accompanied by a refusal to meet in person or show the item prior to payment. Continue Reading…
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