10 Facebook Marketplace Scams to Avoid in 2023

Just the other day, I listed something on Facebook Marketplace and someone immediately messaged me (huge đźš©!) about it. Actually, three people did and they all sent the same message!

They all wanted to know the same thing – would I ship the item to them? What payment did I accept?

I knew for a fact that they were setting me up for a scam. Three identical messages were a huge clue but so was the request for shipping. I bet they were going to send me a cashier’s check for too much, ask me to cash it and send them back the excess. It’s a classic advance fee scam.

If I used our simple trick for spotting a scam, it wouldn’t have passed.

Unfortunately, Facebook Marketplace scams are more and more common. Criminals are using all sorts of tactics to get you to hand over your hard-earned cash for nothing. 

Thankfully, there are ways to recognize attempted fraud before it’s too late. Take a look at the following list of common Facebook Marketplace scams so that you can learn to avoid them. 

Table of Contents
  1. 10 Facebook Marketplace Scams to Watch Out For
    1. 1. Fake Rental Properties
    2. 2. The Overpayment Scam
    3. 3. Fake Receipt Scams
    4. 4. The Classic Bait and Switch
    5. 5. Fake Giveaway Scams
    6. 6. Broken Item Scam
    7. 7. Free Shipping Label Scams
    8. 8. The Phone Number Scam
    9. 9. Advanced Payment Scams
    10. 10. Too Good to Be True Pricing Scams
  2. What to Do If You Get Scammed on Facebook

10 Facebook Marketplace Scams to Watch Out For

Millions of people fall victim to credit card fraud every year. But scamming people on Facebook Marketplace is also becoming far too common, as criminals work to find new ways to steal your money, your identity, and more.

When it comes to this type of fraud, there are specific scams that criminals try to pull over on upstanding people like yourself.  Here are some common scams you should be aware of.

1. Fake Rental Properties

As a realtor, I see a lot of fake rental property scams on Facebook Marketplace and similar sites. And they usually look quite legit.

The ad will have photos of a home or apartment, details about the property, such as the number of bedrooms and square footage, and more. 

This is because those ads are usually copied from an actual current or prior real estate sale listing. 

The “owner” of the rental property will usually tell you they’ve got another potential renter on the line and want you to send money (a security deposit or a hold) right away to hold your place. 

How to avoid this scam: Never send money unless you’ve visited a rental unit in person. If the landlord refuses to let you do that, move on because who would ever rent a place sight unseen? Also, don’t give out personal information unless you’ve verified the rental/rental manager information independently of Facebook. 

2. The Overpayment Scam

Overpayment scams, technically called an advance fee scam by professionals, happen when a buyer overpays you for an item and ask for the excess back. Most often, the buyer sends you a cashiers check. Then they ask you to send the extra money back to them via Venmo or PayPal.

You see this a lot in mystery shopping scams. A “company” will send you a fake cashiers check and ask you to buy gift cards to “test the store.” Then, you read the numbers of the gift card back to them.

Within a day or two, you’ll find out that the check has bounced, and you’re out the money you sent them. It’s a quirk in the cashier’s check system – banks automatically accept them and verify funds later. They don’t do a hold, as they would with other types of checks, and unless the teller is savvy enough to check, you’re screwed.

How to avoid this scam: First, conduct your transactions in person to prevent long-distance scams like this one but never accept overpayment of any kind.

3. Fake Receipt Scams

Some scammers will send you a photo of a payment posting and insist on you sending the item even though the payment hasn’t shown up in your account yet.

This can happen with Venmo, PayPal, and a host of other payment apps. The buyer will send you a screenshot of a payment from their Venmo or a different account.

How to avoid this scam: Wait until the money shows up in your account. Don’t budge on this rule for anyone!

4. The Classic Bait and Switch

Use caution anytime a seller tells you that the item you want has already been sold but that they have a similar item for sale. The “similar” item is usually much lower in quality, and the switch is meant to play on your FOMO (fear of missing out). 

This scam is commonly around the holiday season when people feel pressured to get the items on their loved ones’ wish lists.

How to avoid this scam: Make a decision to walk away if a seller tells you that the item you wanted is sold. Hold out for another listing for the item you really wanted. 

If you decide to go for the switch, be sure you’re getting what you need and not caving into your fear of missing out.

5. Fake Giveaway Scams

Sometimes, people give items away simply because they’ve tried selling, it didn’t work, and they just want the item gone. Or because they are in a hurry to clear out their homes due to an upcoming move or remodel.

However, if a seller wants you to fill out a form to get something for free, you should sit up and take notice.

Free giveaways that require divulging personal information are often just phishing scams meant to gather your personal data for fraud purposes. 

The scammer will ask for information such as your name, address, social security number, and more, and soon enough, they’re opening up a credit card under your name. 

How to avoid this scam: Never give out your personal information online unless you’re quite certain about who you’re dealing with. Why does this person need that information anyway? If they really are giving something away, they want it gone and usually will leave it out on their porch!

6. Broken Item Scam

This is another common Facebook Marketplace scam that often involves shipped items. You start by purchasing an item – often an electronic item – via Facebook Marketplace.

However, when the item arrives, you find that it doesn’t work. The seller is long gone, and you’re stuck with a broken item that you paid good money for.

Yes, many buy-and-sell websites will help you get your money back when this happens. But they can’t always get your money back, and it will cost you time and potentially more money to go through the refund process. 

How to avoid this scam: Try only to buy in person, especially when it comes to electronic items. That way, you can try the item out before you buy to ensure it works properly. If you can’t buy in person, make sure the methods you pay with have a way to protect you in case the item isn’t exactly as advertised.

7. Free Shipping Label Scams

If a buyer offers to send you a free shipping label for an item of yours that they want to buy, don’t take the bait. 

It’s often just a ploy to get a refund on the purchase price. The buyer will switch the shipping destination, claim they never got the package, and insist on a refund via Facebook’s buyer protection policy. 

You’ll be obligated to comply because you have no rights to track the package since you didn’t purchase the shipping label. 

How to avoid this scam: Always buy your own shipping labels and pay for package tracking to prove that an item was delivered to the proper address.

8. The Phone Number Scam

If you get a buyer who wants to arrange to pick up an item you’re selling and asks for your phone number, use caution.

The scammer can quickly register for a Google Voice number and have a verification code sent to your phone. They’ll ask you for the verification code, telling you it’s to verify that you are a real person. 

When you send them the verification code, it unlocks the Google Voice number for them, giving them free rein to participate in scams such as stealing identities, including yours.

How to avoid this scam: Keep all communication within Facebook Marketplace until you’re certain you’re dealing with a legitimate person. Plus, with smart phones, there’s no reason to give out your phone number anymore because you can just keep communicating within the app.

9. Advanced Payment Scams

With an advanced payment scam, you make an agreement to purchase an item, and the “seller” asks for an advanced down payment to hold the item.

You send them your money, but then the item disappears from the listings page and never ships, likely because it never existed. You and others have paid to hold an item, and the “seller” walks away with multiple payments from innocent and unsuspecting buyers. 

How to avoid this scam: Never ever make an advanced payment. Either they’re selling the item to you, or they’re not. Why do you have to send a deposit? If the seller makes excuses about needing an advanced down payment, walk away. 

10. Too Good to Be True Pricing Scams

The old adage applies here: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Did you find a listing for the latest iPhone for $200?

Or that new Coach purse you’ve been wanting for $50? Or the latest Nike high-top shoe for $25? 

Chances are good that when the price for a hot ticket item is much lower than what you’re seeing anywhere else, the item is either a counterfeit knockoff or it’s stolen. Either way, it’s bad.

There are few ways to tell the difference between a legit item and a knockoff item unless you’ve spent some time learning the differences in design.

And with stolen items, you just don’t know. However, there are some things you can do to minimize your chances of getting taken.

How to avoid this scam: Check out a seller’s profile and seller rating if they have one. Most of all, go with your gut.

What to Do If You Get Scammed on Facebook

If you miss the cues and get scammed on Facebook Marketplace, there are things you can do. 

First, report the situation to the Facebook Protection service. Depending on the situation, you may get a refund. 

In the worst-case scenario, the buyer or seller will be on Facebook’s radar so that they will have a more difficult time scamming the next person. 

It might also help you to read up on ways to protect your identity. Even if you’ve already been scammed, you can learn how to protect yourself from future scams. 

At the end of the day, all you can do is do your best to learn about, recognize, and avoid Facebook Marketplace scams. The more you educate yourself, the better you’ll be at protecting your identity and your money.

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