Don't Fall Victim to Facebook Marketplace Scams

Posted on Thursday, September 28, 2023 in Security and Fraud Prevention

Facebook Marketplace has become another Craig’s List as a quick way to sell used items online. With more than 1 billion active users, the convenient tool has also become a target for fraudsters.

“We all have items in our house we’d like to get rid of, and Facebook Marketplace makes it easy to find someone willing to pay money to take it off your hands,” said Jennifer Hass, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Marketing at United Bank & Trust. “Conducting business on Facebook, however, is not without risk. It’s OK to be suspicious, and it’s important to know how to spot scams so you don’t become a victim.”

One scam that is being reported more regularly involves someone using a peer-to-peer payment service, such as Zelle, Venmo or PayPal to pay for the item you’ve listed. They may even send you a screenshot showing they’ve submitted the payment.

One example of this type of scam involves the fraudster claiming to pay with a business account, which requires the receiver to upgrade their account in order to receive the payment. They may offer to send an additional payment as a sign of good faith as long as you promise to refund the overpayment.

A willingness to overpay for an item should be an immediate red flag. If someone offers to pay more than the agreed upon price, it’s best to end communication and report the buyer to Facebook Marketplace.

Watch for These Red Flags

Red Scam Button

While Facebook Marketplace is increasingly being targeted by scammers, transactions can be conducted safely if you know what to look for. Following are a few red flags that may indicate the person you’re dealing with is trying to commit fraud.

  • Moving conversation off Facebook Messenger. A scammer may want to do this to get your phone number or other personal information. Keep the conversation on Messenger to better protect your data.
  • No profile photo. When someone contacts you about an item, or you decide to reach out about an item you have your eye on, do some cyber sleuthing. Examine their profile. If there’s no profile photo, it could mean it’s not a legitimate account.
  • Refusal to meet in person. If the buyer or seller refuses to meet in person to pick up or deliver the item being purchased, it should raise suspicions about their legitimacy. Always meet in public places with other people around when conducting transactions using Facebook Marketplace.
  • No preview allowed. If the seller refuses to allow you to see the item before you purchase it, break off communication. You should be able to examine any second-hand item carefully before you agree to make a purchase.
  • Crazy low prices. If a normally expensive and popular item is listed for an unusually low price, it’s probably a scam. Never trust anything online that appears to be too good to be true.

More Information

If you think your United Bank & Trust account may have been compromised through an interaction on Facebook Marketplace, report it immediately by contacting us at (641) 753-5900.

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