Marketplace is a service offered by Facebook to users who want to buy and sell products. Like most people-to-people sites, such as Craigslist or eBay, Marketplace is also a favorite place for scammers. To avoid Marketplace scams, read ads carefully and make use of the resources you have at your disposal. If you find an ad that you think is a scam or if you have been scammed, immediately report the fraudulent activity to the authorities.
Method 1 of 3: Buy products
Step 1. Review the Marketplace Community Standards
These describe in detail the buying and selling practices and also mention the items the sale of which is prohibited in this market.
- It is possible that scammers will post an ad for items prohibited by market guidelines, take your money, and never complete the transaction.
- In addition, they often require payment or shipment of a product in a manner not specified in general guidelines. By using alternative payment or shipping methods, you are less protected as a buyer. This is the reason why the crooks try to trick you into making use of these methods.
Step 2. Check the seller's profile
One of the advantages of the Marketplace over other online auction and sales platforms is that you must have a Facebook account to post an ad or purchase a product. Checking the seller's profile will let you know if he is credible or if he is a potential con artist.
- Be aware that a real salesperson may have a lot of information that is only available to friends. Therefore, you may not be able to get much information from their public profile. However, you have the option to view their profile picture and since when their Facebook account was created.
- If, for example, the seller only created his Facebook account the day before the ad was published, he may be trying to rip you off.
Step 3. Use Facebook Messenger with care
The social network allows you to chat with the seller via Facebook Messenger to negotiate the final price and close the sale. If you think their ad is fraudulent, be careful what you tell them.
- Refrain from providing personal information. Do not give the seller your credit card number, bank account number, or any other information they might use to steal your identity.
- If the salesperson claims to be from your area, but you don't believe them, you can ask them about local events or different neighborhoods to find out how much they really know the area.
- Use your best judgment and cancel the transaction if you have a bad feeling after talking to him.
Step 4. Pay only through secure payment systems
If you purchase over the Internet, payment systems such as PayPal provide protections for you as a buyer in the event that the seller does not deliver the purchased product.
- Scammers often try to get you to pay by wire transfer, cash, or money order. Avoid these payment methods (even with local vendors), because if they run away with your money, you won't be able to find or get it back.
- If a local seller wants you to pay them in cash, use your good judgment. Usually, a real seller will not refuse the payment method you offer them. Secure payment systems offer benefits and give sellers greater confidence.
Step 5. Meet the local vendors in a safe place
Originally, Marketplace was designed primarily for people living in the same area. However, just because someone lives near you doesn't mean they won't cheat you.
- Beware of salespeople who want you to come to their house or meet them at night. Insist that the exchange take place in a public place and during the day, especially if you are paying for them in person.
- Many local police stations will allow you to meet the person in their parking lot or lobby. If you have this option, this is the safest place for you to meet the seller.
Method 2 of 3: Sell items
Step 1. Accept only the exact purchase price
During a regular scam, the scammer will offer to pay more than what you charge for the product. Then he'll say you can send him the difference by money order or check.
- What really happens in this case is that the scammer's payment never arrives, but they have already received the amount you paid back for the overpayment. He may have already received the product.
- There is no valid reason for someone to pay you more than the asking price for a product and expect you to refund the difference.
Step 2. View the buyer's profile
If you want to buy a product on Marketplace, you must have an account on Facebook. A true buyer will have a fleshed out profile, while a scammer will likely have a basic profile that they have recently created.
Some user privacy settings may limit the amount of information you can get from their profile. However, you can still see the image and a general timeline of the profile
Step 3. Chat with the buyer on Facebook Messenger
One of the advantages of the Marketplace is that it allows you to interact with the buyer on Facebook. Nonetheless, use caution if you think he is a con artist.
- If he claims to be from the same area as you, but you suspect he's not, ask him about local events or neighborhoods. Based on his answers, you will know how much he really knows the area.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel that something is wrong, don't be afraid to cancel the deal and the sale.
Step 4. Limit the payment methods you accept
Secure payment systems offer protection to buyers and sellers. Often, scammers will ask to pay otherwise, such as giving you gift cards.
- In the case of gift card scams, they usually have a zero balance or have been stolen and cannot be used.
- Money transfer or bank transfer services do not provide any guarantees that money will arrive. Also, it does not protect you if you send the product and never receive the payment.
Step 5. Send products only nationally
Some crooks will ask you to send the purchased product to another country. During the time it takes for the item to arrive at its destination, the payment would have already been canceled.
- The idea behind this scam is that you can see the amount paid and you send the product. Then the payment will be suspended or the buyer's check will be bounced and it will be too late to cancel the shipment of the product.
- You can avoid this scam by clearly indicating in the advertisement the places where you want to send the product and refusing any exceptions.
Step 6. Meet the local buyers in a well-lit public place
Local crooks may try to steal from sellers and take away more than the product you put up for sale. Be especially careful if you are selling electronic equipment or smaller products that can easily be stolen.
- Don't agree to meet the buyer in a run down or dodgy place in town. Also avoid meeting him at night.
- Ask the local police station if you can meet the buyer in their parking lot or inside the station. A scammer or buyer who is planning to steal or rip you off will avoid this place.
Method 3 of 3: Report a scam
Step 1. Report the product to Facebook
Marketplace has a simple three-step process for reporting an ad that you believe to be a scam or that breaks platform rules.
- Go to the market and find the product you suspect is a scam. If you click on it, you will see a link Report the post in the lower right corner. Click on this link and follow the instructions to report the product.
Step 2. Contact the Internet Illicit Content Reporting Service
You can report a scam you have been a victim of on this platform or if you suspect an ad in the market. However, you must go to the official portal of this service for more information before making your report.
- Visit! Input.action on this site to learn more about the service and to complete the form. The information you provide is stored in a database used by various law enforcement agencies at different levels to identify patterns of fraudulent activity.
- Collect all the information you have about the person who posted the fraudulent ad, as well as the post itself.
- While sending the form to this service does not involve immediate police intervention, their efforts will help and may lead to additional evidence to stop the scammer.
Step 3. Contact the local police
If the scammer appears to be in your area, getting closer to the police may help authorities deal with the situation. Be aware that a person who tries to defraud another will most likely try to do this again.
- If you have previously reported the activity to the Internet's Illegal Content Reporting Service, you also have the option of contacting the local police. Bring all the information and documentation you have about the transaction, including a hard copy of any conversation you had with the scammer through Facebook Messenger.
- Go to the police station to file a complaint. Only dial 17 or 117 in a real emergency and when you feel that your life or safety is in immediate danger.
- Obtain a copy of the police report for your records. You may need to contact the agent you lodged the complaint with after a week or two if you have no news about your case.