Rachel Bashford
Rachel Bashford
Consumer Expert

Trading from home using online marketplaces has never been so easy. Simply open your Facebook app and see the latest sale items or identify which potential buyers are interested in your latest product. 

Facebook Marketplace has democratized the way people trade, with connections - and sales - made at the click of a button. However, wherever there are sales, there are scammers, and Facebook Marketplace is no exception. Fraudsters are leveraging Facebook scams to their advantage. 

For Facebook Marketplace users, it can be challenging to know who the real deal is, who can be trusted, and who will deliver products on time. 

Key Insights

  • According to recent data, 1.228 billion online shoppers make a purchase on Facebook Marketplace every month. 
  • Sellers and buyers can fall prey to scams, as personal information can be used for illegal activity, such as identity theft. 
  • Fake seller accounts are the most common form of fraud on Facebook Marketplace. Fraudsters create multiple fake accounts to hoodwink honest buyers. 

This article explores how to spot Facebook Marketplace scams and provides insights into scammers' tactics. We also share tips that help you avoid falling victim.

red flags for Facebook Marketplace scams

How to Identify Facebook Marketplace Scams

To steer clear of falling victim to fraudsters, here are the top warning signs of Facebook Marketplace scams to watch out for:

  • The price seems too good to be true 
  • The account you're dealing with is new and has few friends
  • The buyer or seller account has no profile picture
  • You can't see any previous Marketplace activity
  • The account asks you to pay using unusual payment methods. 

If the buyer or seller wants you to transact using an unusual payment method, be cautious. Investigating this scenario could save you from being scammed. 

Unfortunately, even when people think an advert is genuine, scams do occur. In Facebook Marketplace review #5702053, a reviewer shared their experience of being scammed over a pull trailer. The payment was made by Bitcoin, no product arrived, and the money was lost:

The lady says she consigned with eBay motors, and she needed bitcoin for payment, I paid and was never given any notice of anything

So, if you like online shopping, knowing the warning signs is essential to help you avoid Facebook Marketplace scams. It can also be helpful to contact Facebook customer service if you have any questions. 

Top Facebook Marketplace scams

Top Facebook Marketplace Scams

When you’re happily minding your own business and researching your next great buy, you might not be completely aware of devious scammers aiming at your money. Here are some of the most recent scams on Facebook Marketplace to keep you updated.

Faulty or poor-conditioned goods

You’ve chosen your item, and you’re waiting for delivery. Yet when it arrives, it looks nothing like the images online. Additionally, it doesn’t work in the way it should. This is a classic faulty goods scam where sellers tell you something is as good as new, but it arrives in second-class condition. 

Some Facebook Marketplace customers buy products in good faith, like one of the customers in review #5667947. The reviewer reported a loss of $500 after purchasing an item from a Marketplace seller: 

I bought an item from a customer who blatantly lied to me and his product almost killed me…I have sustained injuries from this and he will not do anything about it.

Counterfeit goods

Counterfeit or fake goods are not difficult to find on online platforms. Facebook Marketplace reviews have shown some customer experiences of falling victim to this type of fraud. Scammers may try to sell fake designer goods, jewelry, or electronics and present these as authentic items using stolen images or descriptions from real sellers.

In review #5574297, a buyer was nearly fooled by images of a ‘real gold’ necklace. However, they decided to complete an image search and realized that the fake seller had stolen images from another site, which saved him from a scam:

Thank God my payment didn't go through. I did a Google image search on both of his pictures and he pulled them off of different sites, and is trying to pass them off as his own pictures.

Ticket scams

Fake ticket cons are surging. Scammers are trading imitation tickets for sell-out events and pushing up prices for maximum profit. Some may even create false websites or social media profiles to appear credible. The answer is to buy tickets from official sources to ensure you are not scammed out of your money and your ticket. 

Sadly, one ticket buyer fell for a fake advert and bought from a Facebook Marketplace scammer. In review #5672691, they state that no ticket or refund has ever been received, and the user is blocked from the scam account:

…she never sent them [tickets] nor sent my money backIve contacted her so many times it was all excuses then she ended up blocking me.

Non-delivery scams

Picture the scene: After months of research, you land on the perfect product. At first, the seller couldn't be more helpful in explaining all of the essential details. Yet once you pay, they go silent and vanish without a trace. 

Unfortunately, this scenario is more common than you think, as one of the Facebook Marketplace users discovered and shared in review #5634854 when they thought they were completing a real purchase:

I spent almost 200 on a package and there is no good system to get it back. Text the seller you don't think I did? They just don't respond, and what can I do? Nothing at all.

Rent scams

Both renters and vendors are liable to face difficulties on Facebook Marketplace. Fake rental ads usually feature images taken from other sources, have no contact information, or have little account activity.

Potential renters should be aware of red flags such as overly-attentive messaging and time-limited payment requests. Scammers often make prospective tenants pay over cash apps, then disappear with the money and leave renters without a property. 

A review #5338097 on the PissedConsumer platform reported that they viewed a post advertising a trailer, paid the scammer a deposit, and never heard from them again. After some research, the renter found the real trailer owner and realized their $500 deposit was lost:

…he wasn't the owner of this trailer I talk to the real owner of the trailer I have text from the scammer and pictures and receip.

It’s not just renters who are scammed, but property owners too. In fact, sellers are currently complaining about rent issues more often than renters. The most common problem is being blocked for no reason, as discovered in review #5344691:

…listed house for rent and got blocked without explanation tried another account and immediately blocked they probably have immature AI making decisions and screwing people…

Deposit scams

Deposits are generally accepted as necessary for more expensive items, so it’s not surprising when buyers act on this request. However, scammers are using deposits as a money-making opportunity with high-end products, using a sense of urgency to secure payment.

Some reviewers state they have fallen foul of this scam. To highlight, in review #4621025, customers reported they paid a $200 deposit but had not received delivery of their product:

I paid a deposit and now the person is not delivering the item . They have ghosted me now. 

A good rule of thumb is to do a thorough check of the seller’s profile and Marketplace activity. Looking for previous sales, user reviews, images and comments will help you make a decision. 

How to avoid facebook marketplace scams

How to Avoid Facebook Marketplace Scams

Staying safe on Facebook Marketplace is achievable with a few checks in place and consumer insights. Although no sale is 100% guaranteed to be authentic, there are steps you can take to secure your buying or selling process. 

Here is a quick guide to help you stay safe:

  • Keep communication within the Marketplace platform. Michael Podolsky, CEO and co-founder of the PissedConsumer.com review website believes that, “Despite many disappointing consumer experiences with Facebook Marketplace, shopping there can be safe if taking precautions. Consumers should keep communication within the Marketplace platform, as this can serve as evidence for customer support in case something goes wrong.”
  • Interact with local buyers/sellers and those recommended by people you know. There is nothing more reassuring than gaining a trusted recommendation from a friend or family member. 
  • Always triple-check any deal that seems too good to be true. There is usually a suspicious reason why a product is being sold at an unbelievably low price. It helps to research this thoroughly. 
  • Only share personal information when necessary. When you’re looking to buy or sell, check buyers or vendors to confirm they are legitimate, and only share the information required when you’re happy with the trade. 
  • Use secure payment methods or cash-on-delivery methods. In-person trading is one of the more secure ways to ensure an honest process. Only use payment methods you trust to have checks in place to prevent fraud. 
  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on any platform where you trade, including Facebook Marketplace. This makes it challenging for anyone to hack your account, as they will need a unique code to access your private information. 
  • Report suspicious activity to Facebook Marketplace customer service. Provide as much information as you can about the scammers to help the platform take them down. 

How to Report a Facebook Marketplace Scam

If you’ve never reported a scam on Facebook Marketplace before, you might not know where to start. A good place to begin is with official Facebook Marketplace guides on scam reporting. 

The platform does have Purchase Protection Policies available to help protect people from scammers. Read the small print because products need to be eligible as protected purchases. Some users have had difficulties with this process, as stated in review #5676806: 

Submitted a claim to purchase protection because of a scammer, they approved the claim and never got my money back after they said they will return my money.

So, as one of the Facebook Marketplace cons, a frustrated reviewer listed, “No purchase protection support wow.”

You can also report a scam purchase or sale to government agencies that safeguard consumer rights. Reach out to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), providing as much information as you can to resolve your issue. You can report a scam at Reportfraud.ftc.gov or contact FTC using the details below:

Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
Telephone: (202) 326-2222

If you want to report a scam on Facebook Marketplace, you can follow these points:

  1. Click Marketplace in the left menu of your News Feed.
  2. Click Your Account and then Inbox. 
  3. Tap the listing you want to report. 
  4. Tap the seller’s photo, click Report and Scam. 
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions.

Protect Against Facebook Marketplace Scams

A sensible approach to buying or selling online is to set up fraud alerts on any bank accounts or credit cards and enable two-factor (2FA) authentication on Facebook. This adds an extra layer of protection as a hacker will need an additional code to log in. 

Read any available profile reviews, look at user ratings, and try to do as much in-person as you can. Never accept overpayments; this could potentially result in you having to pay out and then gain nothing in return. 

If you, a friend, or a family member have been a victim of Facebook Marketplace scams, you may help others by sharing your experience in the comments section below or leaving a review

Legal disclaimers:

  1. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide any legal, medical, accounting, investment or any other professional advice as individual cases may vary and should be discussed with a corresponding expert and/or an attorney.
  2. All or some image copyright belongs to the original owner(s). No copyright infringement intended.

Leave a Reply

Anonymous #14765
Have mostly good experiences!However, one product I purchased after driving 50 miles and coming home 100 miles total.The product was not as claimed, and the seller should have given it away lol.Or donated to charity.But it just made me aware of the same products and I made three more better purchases.One issue I had with the seller not coming outside, so I just politely left and headed home. And deleted their messages.Got scammed trying to purchase an item the seller never had the item. But I didn't lose any money because the card services informed me that it was a scam.Just deleted them.Sometimes in life you win and sometimes you lose but learn to trust GOD even more because this world is getting eviler not better.
Jerry Brumm #14998
NEVER use a debit card to pay for an online purchase. You just gave the seller "cash and you don't have any protection from the seller.ALWAYS use a credit card. You have the legal right to dispute the transaction with your card issuer. NOTE: Dispute resolution procedures WILL VARY from card issuer to card issuer. You MUST FOLLOW the issuer's procedures to the LETTER. Also, some card issuers are more inclined to favor their card holder over the seller.I purchased some amateur radio gear that the seller billed as "like new". When I removed the transceiver from the go kit, its sides were scratched down to bare metal. The antenna tuner was in the same condition. I tried to dispute the transaction with P(l)ayPal. They would contact the seller and ask for his version.NO WAY!I took some pictures of the gear and called my card issuer to dispute the transaction. Within days they reversed the $650 charge. Boy, did that seller scream!2022 we visited Paris. We confirmed our seven-day hotel stay with our credit card. The hotel turned out to be little better than a Chicago SRO. We checked out early, after two days, and were charged an EARLY CANCELLATION FEE.I complained to the hotel chain verbally and in writing, NO RESPONSE.I disputed the early cancellation fee with our card issuer as an UNDISCLOSED CHARGE. They credited our account with over $300 for the undisclosed fee.