Common Scams on Facebook Marketplace by Fake Buyers

  • By Steven
  • Published: May 08, 2024
  • Last Updated: May 19, 2024

Facebook (FB) is the most popular social platform worldwide, hosting 2.9 billion monthly active users. The draw to FB comes from its social connectivity, allowing friends and family to stay connected, updated, and in each other’s lives, no matter where they are. Facebook’s success is also due, in part, to its platform services. The Facebook Marketplace is among the most used, with nearly 16% of active users (491 million people) using the platform to review the available items.

 Facebook Marketplace by Fake Buyers

The popularity of FB has inevitable consequences; a global user base is a significant achievement for any corporation, but the world’s largest audience also has issues. Scammers, malicious actors, and online threats are everywhere within the environment, flying low below the platforms’ security identifiers and targeting unsuspecting users.

This content provides insight into the scams on the Facebook Marketplace, including overviews of the most common types, their deceptive practices, and tips for navigating the Marketplace safely. In learning about these topics, users will learn about the threats they face online and on Facebook.

What are Facebook Scams and Facebook Marketplace Scams

Scams, generally speaking, are schemes orchestrated by malicious actors that trick, entice, or threaten consumers and business employees into sharing information, funds, or property. Facebook scams differ in that they occur on the FB platform, which can make them particularly dangerous due to the presumption of trust these scammers misuse. In comparison, Facebook Marketplace scams are a category of these incidents, most of which offer property or assets to victims in exchange for money or particular information.

How Do Facebook Marketplace Scams Work? 

FB Marketplace scams work by the scammer offering value on the platform. They lure authentic users in various ways, from promising time-limited deals to bulk purchases, one-of-a-kind items, or by offering value to the right person. Moreover, because the scammer relies on the authentic user to contact them, they often don’t work to find a target—they only have to wait after setting their bait.

Upon authentic users messaging scammers about whatever they’re selling, they can begin making specific requests. These requests can range from providing personal information disguised as shipping to obtaining gift cards “to pay for fees.” The nuances of these scams differ, but the consequences are mostly the same: the target shares money or information, and the scammer uses it to further other schemes and goals.

Common Types of Facebook Marketplace Scams 

There are several common types of scams on Facebook Marketplace; here are the most common:

Overpayment Scams

One of the most common Facebook Marketplace scams is the scammer buying something from an authentic user. The malicious actor purchases something in these scams and sends the victim too much money. The scammer will request that the extra money be returned to them, but they will likely use stolen credit cards or accounts. In sending the money back to them, they can strip away the funds of these stolen assets without the scam being traced directly to them, similar to money laundering

Fake Product Scams

Other scams include fake products, counterfeit goods, replicas, or non-existent products being sold. These scams are more easily recognized than others thanks to their clear distinctions: low-quality images, lacking details or context, the seller avoiding questions, poor grammar, requests to move off of the platform to finish the purchase, and other suspicious aspects are often enough to stop a consumer from following the scammer to the end of the process.

Rental and Real Estate Scams

Other common scams on FB include rental and real estate schemes. As young and opportunistic consumers search for cheap housing, they may fall victim to these plots. The listings are often fraudulent, with the scammer not necessarily knowing the owner of the property they are “selling.” They often know generals about the location, primarily due to public property records, but cannot answer specific questions about the property. Moreover, these property listings may include photos of the area outside but not its inside. Consider checking the property before contacting the “seller,” as some scammers request inspection fees.

Phishing Scams

phishing scam is another standard scheme on Facebook Marketplace and online in general. These scams appear in nearly all communication channels and are plots where the malicious actor attempts to trick or convince their victim into sharing information with them. These schemes’ goals vary but often include disclosing personal, financial, account, and medical information. In texts, direct messages, and emails, these scams are easily avoided because they usually include a falsified link that, once clicked, takes the target user to a fake login or payment page. On the FB Marketplace, this scam becomes more challenging to detect—that’s why users must learn how to identify a fake buyer or seller on the platform.

How to Identify a Fake Buyer on Facebook Marketplace 

A scam can be found when the offer is too good to be true. Scammers use their selling and purchasing power to lure users. They may offer massive discounts, bulk purchases, or BOGOs to attract a particular victim. These victims are often unaware of the signs of fraud or have flawed judgment due to the “opportunity” offered via the scammer.

Fake Buyer on Facebook Marketplace 

Other scams may include elements of pressure. This pressure could come in many forms, from time-limited offers (“today only”) to appeals to emotion (“I need it for my son’s birthday”) to vague threats (“you have to give that to me”). The pressurized situation is fictitious, meant to scare or entrap the potential victim into compliance with demands.

Some scammers use unusual payment methods. A suggestion to take the transaction to another platform is a sign of suspicious behavior, as following the scammer allows them to manipulate a potential victim holistically. These manipulations can include fake third-party transaction websites, fake login pages, fake banking registration pages, and other threats.

A common element of fraudster accounts is incomplete profiles. The scammers don’t intend to have a long-term account, so they often don’t fill it with authentic information like typical users. If they do, they might create an account and leave it alone to age—this helps them build credibility—but the informed user can spot a fake account even when it’s six months old: a lack of interaction, no pictures, and no personality are common signs.

Preventative Measures and Best Practices 

Here are some essential preventative measures and best practices to consider:

Verifying Seller/Buyer Identity

Users can discover fake buyers on Facebook Marketplace in many ways; one of the easiest is by authentic users verifying their identity before giving them any information or funds. With the right service provider, background checks can quickly be done online, often for free. Moreover, conducting these checks can be as simple as entering a name and state or submitting an email or phone number to check associations. It may not be the first thing on an excited buyer’s mind when they find a new deal—but taking a moment to verify who you are interacting with can be the difference between blocking them and losing thousands long term.

Secure Payment Methods

While some purchasing agreements may have legitimate reasons to finish away from the FB Marketplace, most transactions must finish on the platform. Financial transactions are the crux of some scams. As a result, these scammers may attempt to lure their potential victim into entrapment—hoping the user either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care enough to stop the transaction from happening. Using secure payment methods avoids these traps, which means not agreeing to wire transfers, not complying with requests for gift cards, and not leaving the Marketplace to confirm the transaction with “their bank.”

Meeting Safety

Confident scammers may impersonate real users, encouraging a meet-up to finish the transaction process. Apart from being dangerous because of meeting with a stranger, these in-person meetings can become physically dangerous, mainly if the malicious actor is aggressive or looking for a victim to steal, kidnap, or abuse. These are the same fears that come with internet dating, so public meeting places with many witnesses are considered necessary for first and secondary meetings. Where scammers on FB Marketplace are involved, users should always meet in public places and avoid in-person transactions whenever possible.

Utilizing Facebook Marketplace’s Reporting Features

Facebook offers many reporting features for scammers and malicious users on the platform. All the reporting methods have unique processes but aren’t challenging to complete. If a user thinks they’ve interacted with a scammer on Facebook, they’ll need to make a report to Facebook as soon as possible to remove them from the platform.

To report a seller, the authentic user must log into their account and access the Marketplace from their News Feed. They then click the listing and select the “Seller Information” option below the seller’s name. From there, they can click the “…” icon and select “Report.” The system will then guide them through the rest of the process.

To report a profile, the reporter must log into the platform and locate the profile they want to report—either by clicking its name in the Feed or searching for it. After finding it, they can select the “…” icon to the right of the profile. From the menu that appears, they should select “Find support or report,” tap one of the relative reasons, and then tap “Done” to confirm the report request.

What to Do If You’ve Been Scammed 

If users suspect they’ve been scammed, they must protect themselves and others. Start by reporting the scammer to Facebook and law enforcement, but also notify your financial institutions—especially if you’ve given the scammer payment information. Additionally, consider account monitoring services to protect your identity from online theft, fraud, and impersonation.

  • Report the user profile and listing to Facebook. Use the methods described above to notify the platform of the potential threat.
  • Do not delete any conversations or messages from the scammer. Keep the conversations between accounts, even if they are screenshots of the messages. They can be important for officials to take serious action.
  • Notify law enforcement if the scammer becomes threatening. In cases where the malicious actor becomes aggressive, telling the local authorities influences how they approach and deal with the threat.
  • Notify financial institutions and credit bureaus if necessary. Depending on the information the scammer stole, it may be worth telling your bank and the credit bureaus that your details might be compromised. 

Scams are part of life online, and the more prominent these platforms grow, the more dangers they attract from opportunistic characters. Facebook Marketplace scams are particularly insidious as they target young and senior users, promising deals and assets for cheap. The scams can trick buyers and sellers of items and are often only discovered after the damage has been done. However, scams on the FB Marketplace can be easily identified when a user knows what to look for and how these malicious actors conduct their schemes.

Share this content with those who frequent Facebook and its Marketplace; by learning and spreading the word about the signs of these threats, users can better protect the public from falling victim to these characters

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