Discover some of the most common Facebook Marketplace red flags and what you can do to avoid being scammed when buying or selling on this eCommerce platform.
Facebook Marketplace stands out from the crowd for being where we can all find it: on Facebook.
And with 1.9 billion people accessing the social networking platform daily, you get the feeling you will bump into someone who has what you want or is seeking what you have.
Sadly, scammers abound in this sort of place, and the experience on Facebook Marketplace is often riddled with worry and restraint.
In this article, I’ll show you how to tread safely and shop confidently on FB Marketplace. I’ll take you through the most common Facebook Marketplace red flags for both sellers and buyers and what to do if it’s too late and you’re scammed.
Don’t forget: How to Not Get Scammed on Facebook Marketplace
Common Facebook Marketplace Red Flags for Buyers
Buyers are the biggest victims of scams on online marketplaces. Here are ways to tell you’re dealing with a potential con artist masquerading as a seller:
1. The seller asks to take the transaction out of Facebook
I’ve thought about it, and there is no reason someone would give up Facebook’s Messenger for another chat app. If a seller keeps pushing to take the chat to WhatsApp or another app, they’re probably avoiding being traced when the chips are down.
Make sure all your communication takes place on Facebook. Payment should be made through Facebook Checkout or PayPal. Anything else is not covered under the platform’s Purchase Protection, meaning you’ll be on your own in the event you’re scammed.
2. The seller has a suspicious profile
Genuine sellers will be willing to sell through their real Facebook profiles. A fake seller account is a potential indication you’re dealing with a serial scammer.
The first thing you should do before messaging a seller is to click on their Facebook profile. If it was created just the other day, that’s probably a fake account. If it has just one profile picture, no profile picture, or a series of model or celebrity photos, that’s also a fake!
Go on with your little research. Click into their friends’ list. Do they have too few friends? And does there seem to be a disconnect between the profile and the friends’ profiles? Do these friends comment on the seller’s posts, and does it seem like they are friends in real life?
If your answers to those three questions are “Yes,” “Yes,” and “No,” then that’s most likely a fake account by a fake seller.
3. The seller wants payment in advance
Your seller may ask you to pay in advance for an item you just agreed to buy because, apparently, “other people want it,” and they need some assurance from you. Well, that’s a universally recognized scam tactic.
Never pay in advance if you are going to pick up the item in person. Firstly, what if the item is broken? Secondly, how will you know the seller will show up? Thirdly, why pay and you’re going to meet up anyway?
The most advisable thing to do as a buyer is to agree to buy something only when you are available to pick it up immediately. If the seller insists you pay beforehand, cut off all communication and find another seller.
4. The item is too cheap
Most items on Facebook Marketplace are second-hand, so it’s not uncommon to find high-ticket goods going cheap. Some prices may, however, be too low to be true even for a used item.
Usually, there is an average price for second-hand items. Do your research before committing to a deal. If the seller’s price is too low, the item is probably broken, stolen, or, worse, non-existent.
You can go the extra mile of asking them why they are selling it so. If they bluff, walk away.
5. The seller is inconsistent with their pricing
If a Facebook Marketplace seller suggests a different price for an item after you message them, you could be dealing with a bait-and-switch scammer. Back out as soon as possible, even if they suggest a lower price.
Common Facebook Marketplace Red Flags for Sellers
Do sellers get scammed too? Yes, a lot! Sellers are actually easier to scam as they receive significantly less protection from Facebook’s Purchase Protection policies.
If you are a seller on Facebook Marketplace, here are a few red flags to watch out for when dealing with prospective buyers.
Don’t forget to also check out this article on how to spot Facebook Marketplace Fake Buyers
1. The buyer has a fake Facebook account
A fake buyer account is a red flag that most sellers seem to ignore. After all, you’ll know who they are when you meet them, right? Wrong.
A genuine buyer will have no problems revealing their face from the beginning. Nine times out of ten, a buyer with a fake account has a ploy that you can’t figure out yet.
You can entertain them and work it out later or just ignore them and save yourself some precious time and possibly money.
2. The buyer accidentally overpays for a purchase
In one incredibly overused trick, a buyer will overpay you using counterfeit funds and then request that you refund the extra amount. They will disappear after you make a partial refund, and their payment will never reach your account.
Slick as you like it!
The best part is that most scammers who attempt this trick also offer to pay before you send them the item because otherwise, you might become suspicious, and they don’t want that.
If you are vigilant enough, you can stop them in their tracks and even do other sellers a service by reporting the scammer to Facebook.
3. The buyer is adamant about not meeting you in person
Unless you’re selling a rare item, most of your offers will come from local prospects or, in other words, from buyers who will be available to collect the item in person.
Anyone who doesn’t want to meet you should pay first and through Facebook’s approved payment options. Don’t accept non-verifiable payment options, and don’t send the item before you receive payment.
4. The buyer sends you an identity-verification code
Some scammers don’t want your money – just your personal information so they can scam other people.
The Google Voice scam is one of the most rampant information harvesting tricks on Facebook Marketplace.
The buyer will ask for your phone number to “verify your identity,” and after you give it to them, a code will be sent to your phone. They will use it to open a Google Voice account and scam people disguised as you.
Additional reading: 15 Apps & Sites Like Facebook Marketplace
5. The buyer wants to communicate outside Facebook
Scam buyers like hiding their digital paper trail, and Facebook is not the best place to do so. Even if you feel you can trust a buyer, always keep all your conversations on Facebook Messenger.
What To Do If You Get Scammed On Facebook Marketplace
If you are a Facebook Marketplace scam victim, the first step should be to notify Facebook and the police. You will likely get a refund if the transaction is eligible as a Protected Purchase per Facebook’s policies.
Facebook refunds buyers if:
- They don’t receive an item they bought
- They received a damaged item
- The purchase was unauthorized, i.e., someone else made the purchase through the buyer’s account
- The seller did not follow their stated refund policy
If Facebook approves your claim as a buyer, you will receive a full or partial refund. Facebook will make the refund decision at its sole discretion.
Additional Reading: I Got Scammed on Facebook Marketplace, What Can I do?
Watch out for these Facebook Marketplace red flags, and your experience on the platform will be better and safer.
Have you ever been scammed on Facebook Marketplace? Let us know what steps you took in the comment section.
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