Avoid Being Scammed on Facebook Marketplace: Expert Tips for Spotting Dodgy Deals
With Christmas just around the corner and the cost of living squeezing household budgets, many gift-hunters are turning to Facebook Marketplace or buy/sell pages in search of bargains. However, the rise of scammers on these platforms has left buyers vulnerable to fraud. In this article, we will explore the experiences of two Bay of Plenty women who encountered scammers and provide expert advice on how to spot and avoid dodgy deals on social media.
Cheryl Bond, a resident of Tauranga, discovered that her mother-in-law’s Rotorua address was being used by a scammer from Canada posing as a New Zealander. The scammer had created a fake Facebook profile and was offering American-type products for sale, including a snowmobile in Rotorua, at prices that seemed too good to be true. Bond raised awareness of the scam on local community boards and managed to track down the scammer’s true identity.
Bond’s story highlights the risks associated with buying from unknown sellers on Facebook Marketplace. Scammers often take advantage of the holiday season when people are more inclined to make impulse purchases and are eager to find good deals. It is crucial for buyers to exercise caution and take steps to verify the legitimacy of sellers before making any transactions.
The police have noticed an increase in scams involving fake listings on online platforms. Scammers advertise items for sale but have no intention of delivering them after receiving a deposit from the buyer. To avoid falling victim to these scams, buyers need to be vigilant, especially when dealing with sellers on social media sites or unverified websites.
Online safety charity Netsafe cautions buyers about the risks associated with Facebook buy/sell pages, as these pages are run by users and not moderated by Facebook. Although platforms like Trade Me have measures to protect buyers and sellers, Facebook buy/sell pages lack such safeguards. Netsafe advises individuals who come across copied listings or fake profiles to report them to the host platform and consider warning others through comments or questions.
One particular target for scammers is vehicle listings, as they can demand larger sums of money from unsuspecting buyers. It is essential to verify the identity of the seller before making any payment or deposit. Netsafe suggests several precautions, such as carefully checking the seller’s profile, preferring payment options with strong protections like PayPal, and confirming the existence and ownership of the item in person or through video chat.
Shannon, a Tauranga teacher, had her Facebook Marketplace listing for her mother’s car copied and reposted by a scammer at a significantly lower price. Luckily, a car dealer recognized the scam and alerted her. Shannon reported the issue to Facebook but received no response from the platform. She advises others not to transfer money until they have the item in hand and to spread awareness in their communities.
In addition to individual precautions, Facebook parent company Meta has taken steps to address the issue of online scams. Collaborating with organizations like Netsafe, Meta has launched campaigns to educate users about online scammers and provide tools for fraud prevention and detection. They have also developed checknetsafe.nz, a website that allows users to check if a website address is associated with scams.
To help users navigate the risks of buying on Facebook Marketplace, here are six expert tips for spotting scammers:
1. Check the seller’s profile for red flags, such as a new or incomplete profile.
2. Review the seller’s ratings, reviews, and marketplace activity to assess their credibility.
3. Verify the existence and ownership of the item in person or through video chat before making any payment.
4. Opt for payment options with strong buyer protections, such as PayPal.
5. Be skeptical of deals that seem too good to be true, as scammers often use under-priced items to lure buyers.
6. If the item needs to be shipped, request tracked shipping and verify the tracking number on the delivery company’s website.
By following these expert tips, buyers can protect themselves from falling victim to scams on Facebook Marketplace and other online platforms. Remember to always prioritize safety and verify the credibility of sellers before making any purchases. Stay vigilant and spread awareness to help others avoid becoming victims of online scams.