Common OfferUp Scams to Watch Out For

  • By Greg Brown
  • Apr 14, 2023

OfferUp Scams

One of the hottest online trends is auction sites selling everything from toys to cars and items tucked away in a closet. Sites such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and Decluttr, provide a way for anyone to sell anything. 

eBay and Craigslist began the craze of selling unwanted household items back in 1995. These sites sought to bring together buyers and sellers in an open and honest marketplace. Both companies expanded rapidly beyond collectibles into any saleable item.

Auction sites are primarily a consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer marketplace. These giant e-commerce stores generate income by listing fees and marketing arrangements. They also attract a lot of predators.

OfferUp Scams

OfferUp, in a few words, is a shopper’s paradise. Log in to the home page, and you are hit with everything from collectibles like Jordan 1s to new and used cars. After ensuring all security settings are up to date, it is time to click on one of the ads. OfferUp is a marketing machine in its presentation of products, add-ons, and services. 

Every service, product, and subcategory has hundreds of perfectly photographed items and a short but to-the-point description, all within a short distance of your zip code. Similar auction sites may have three, maybe four, 65” TVs, while OfferUp will have dozens upon dozens. 

  • External Payment Scams are insidious methods of convincing unwitting buyers they can get the item much cheaper, off-site. Depending on the initial number of email addresses sent in the email blast, predators can take the same legitimate return estimate of three percent that other hackers use. Predators always insist on payment before any product or service is delivered. Off-site sellers usually accept only gift cards, certified checks, or prepaid cards. Fraud can be about stealing money, or scammers may just never respond.
  • OfferUp Mirror Sites have become a significant issue at OfferUp. Hoodlums build mirror sites, imitating many of the legitimate stores. The mirror site pushes its visitors into creating accounts. Criminals ask for various types of information, including addresses, emails, and banking information, and genuinely unwitting visitors offer their social security numbers. Mirror sites are also incredibly harmful to the underlying merchant as their online reputation can suffer tremendously. In the online world, once a customer leaves, for whatever reason, it is difficult, if not impossible, to get them back.

Scams are plentiful on OfferUp, and there are several reasons why predators head to the platform for their misdeeds. The site offers plenty of direct-to-consumer scams. With the number of unwitting users, the odds could not be much better for a scam to work.

Verification code scams are commonly seen on selling platforms like OfferUp, and are used most often with Google Voice verification. The scam works like this: The objective is to steal as much personal information as the victim will offer. Predators will contact their victims and say they want to buy the item you have posted on Facebook, Craigslist, or OfferUp. Before the predator offers to exchange money, they want to verify the person on the other end of the line is legitimate. Basically, the predator will send the victim a text asking for a verification code from Google Voice. Once the unwitting victim sends the code, the predator uses this code as proof that he or she has access to a profile or account that is not tied to the victim, creating long-term problems in most cases. 

Counterfeit Product and Shipping Scams

how to avoid offerup scams

Impersonating or shipping fraudulent products has been a foundational scam for many years. A few of the simple details are substituted. However, the basic scam remains the same.

  • Products listed on OfferUp may contain phrases like “need to sell fast” or “priced to sell”. Fraudsters offer to sell items way below market or feature an item “sold out” on other sites. Predators always ship a knockoff or may not ship anything at all. During the holidays, the crooks make their money by offering products everyone is desperate to find. 
  • A shipping scam may be part of the buying or selling process. Buyers purchase a product on OfferUp platform, then claim the product never arrived and demand a refund. If the transaction is taken off the platform, refunds are non-existent. If you keep the transaction on OfferUp, you are at less risk because the platform handles the shipping.
  • Unwitting consumers know no bounds. The most outrageous scam on OfferUp is shipping an empty box. Fake mirrored sites trick shoppers into believing they have found the best online deal. Scammers list boxes of expensive items such as a gaming console or a collectible and take pictures of just the boxes without showing the products inside. Once payment has been made, scammers ship “just an empty box.” Ensure you see the shipping container’s contents and stay on the OfferUp platform to be protected from fraudulent transactions. 

Protect Yourself

Predators continue to find new ways of scamming consumers who are careless with their personal information on auction sites such as OfferUp. If you are wary of any website, run the URL through VirusTotal. The service analyzes the URL and detects any malware that may be present.

Research the seller thoroughly and read as many reviews of the seller or their products as you need to convince you of their authenticity prior to buying. Do the product images seem blurry and improperly staged? Is there anything off about the description? If your gut says yes, avoid the seller for safety’s sake.

Use common sense when meeting the seller to review the product. Always keep meetings in a public place with a lot of people around, and never meet sellers at night or evenings. Make sure the location is highly visible and well-protected, such as at a local police department parking lot. If you are purchasing electronics, make sure to bring the equipment along to test the merchandise. 

Do not confront the crook alone if you feel your transaction has been a scam. Report suspicious dealings of any predator to OfferUp. Contact your bank or credit card company to see if the transaction can be canceled. If money has changed hands and products were not delivered, it may be time to contact the police.

Educate yourself about the other scams happening all over the internet. Scams will all be the same at their cores, with the only difference being the merchant.

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