Facebook Marketplace Scams: How to Spot, Protect Yourself, and Report Them

With the ever-growing community on Facebook Marketplace, the convenience of buying and selling goods locally has never been greater. However, this bustling digital marketplace is not without its dark corners, where fraudsters lurk to exploit the unwary. Facebook scams on the Marketplace have become a troubling issue, with savvy scammers devising new ways to deceive users daily.

In this guide, we will shine a light on the subtle red flags that can help you spot a fraud, arm you with the knowledge to protect yourself effectively, and guide you through the process of reporting these scams to maintain the integrity of the platform.

Are Facebook scams really a big deal?

It’s no secret that Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms, with over two billion active daily users worldwide. With such a vast user base, it is not surprising that scammers have taken notice and are actively targeting individuals on the platform.

According to a recent study by LookoutLife (a social media monitoring firm), roughly 62% of Facebook users encounter some form of scam on a weekly basis. To put that in perspective, that’s more than half of all Facebook users facing threats of fraud every week.

So, yes, Facebook Marketplace scams are a big deal, and it’s essential to know how to protect yourself from falling victim.

Why are scams on Facebook so prevalent?

Much of the appeal of Facebook to scammers is due to its vast user base and the sheer amount of personal information that users willingly share on their profiles. This makes it easy for fraudsters to create convincing personas and gather sensitive information from potential victims.

Additionally, the ease of creating fake accounts, groups, and pages on Facebook makes it a prime instrument for scammers looking to hide their true identity while carrying out fraudulent activities.

For example, a scammer may create a fake account and post listings on the Marketplace, offering goods at unrealistically low prices to lure unsuspecting buyers. They may also use stolen or stock photos to make their listings appear more legitimate.

While Meta (Facebook’s parent company) has measures in place to detect and remove fake accounts, scammers are continuously evolving their tactics to stay ahead of these efforts. New Facebook scams are constantly emerging, and it’s ultimately up to individual users to stay vigilant and protect themselves from being preyed upon.

How to spot scams on Facebook marketplace?

To effectively spot scams on Facebook Marketplace, keen observation of the details is key. Here are several warning signs that may indicate a fraudulent listing or interaction:

  • Suspiciously Professional Profile Photos: Scammers often use stolen images that look like stock photos or professional headshots. A reverse image search can sometimes confirm if the profile picture is being used elsewhere on the internet.
  • Poor Language Use: Odd grammar, spelling mistakes, and/or awkward phrasing can be indicative of a scammer. Many scammers may not be fluent in English, so irregular communication should raise suspicion.
  • Request for Unconventional Payment Methods: Always be wary if the seller insists on using untraceable payment methods like wire transfers, cryptocurrency, gift cards, or payment apps such as Cash App or Zelle. Traditional payment routes offer more in the way of buyer protection.
  • Deals That Seem Too Good to Be True: Exceptionally low prices on high-valued items can be a trap to allure unsuspecting buyers. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • New or Barely-Used Profiles: A profile with minimal friends, sparse postings, or very few photos can be a clue to a fake account. Always cross-check to see if their social activity matches that of a genuine user.
  • Urgent Unsolicited Messages: Be cautious of messages that push you to react immediately, especially if they are from a person you don’t recognize. Scammers create a sense of urgency to bypass your better judgment.

While this list is far from complete, you can bet that all scams on Facebook Marketplace share many of these warning signs that the victim could have heeded beforehand. Keeping them in mind can help you avoid falling victim to fraud, and not just on Facebook, but other online marketplaces as well.

Common Facebook marketplace scams

Now that we have discussed how to spot scams on Facebook Marketplace let’s take a look at some specific examples of common scams that have been reported by users.

After all, the best way to learn how to avoid scams on Facebook is to understand the methods that scammers use.

Facebook email scam

Facebook email scams are a particular breed of deception where scammers impersonate Facebook’s official communications. They often send out emails claiming that there’s an issue with your account or that you need to confirm some personal details. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Phishing Emails: These emails appear to be from Facebook, often copying the exact format, logo, and footer. They’ll direct you to a fake login page in hopes that you’ll input your real credentials, which they can then steal.
  • Fake Friend Requests or Notifications: Scammers may send emails alerting you to new friend requests or notifications. Links within these emails can lead to malicious websites designed to harvest your data.
  • Lottery or Prize Scams: Emails congratulating you on winning a Facebook lottery or prize are almost certainly scams. These often claim that you need to provide personal information or pay a processing fee to claim your prize.

For example, let’s say that you’ve listed some high-end electronics on Marketplace. Scammers can home in on that listing and send a series of fake Facebook notification emails in hopes of gaining access to your account (and your personal information).facebook marketplace email scam

For any emails claiming to be from Facebook, ensure they come from an official “@facebook.com” address, and even then, be cautious and verify any links by manually navigating to Facebook through your browser rather than clicking on links in the email.

Facebook code scams

Facebook code scams are sneaky attempts to gain unauthorized access to your account. A common scheme involves a scammer pretending to be a Facebook representative, sending a message or an email asking for the verification code you’ve just received. Here’s what you need to be vigilant for:

  • Unsolicited Verification Requests: If you receive a message asking for a code that you’ve just been sent, especially if you didn’t request it, be highly suspicious. Facebook will never ask for your security codes.
  • Fake Account Recovery: Scammers may claim your account is at risk and that you need to verify it by sending them the code you receive. Ignore such messages and never share your verification codes.
  • Code Generators: In some cases, scammers will ask you to provide codes generated by your authentication app. These codes are meant to secure your account, not to be shared.

Here’s a good example of what these code-related scams could look like:facebook_code_scam

If you encounter this sort of scam, remember to never share the codes that are intended to keep your account safe. Report the incident to Facebook and change your password immediately if you suspect your account has been compromised.

Facebook pay scams

Facebook pay scams target the platform’s integrated payment system to defraud users. Scammers may pose as buyers interested in items listed for sale and suggest using Facebook Pay for the transaction. Here’s how to spot and avoid these scams:

  • Overpayment Scheme: The scammer “accidentally” sends more money through Facebook Pay than the sale price and asks for the difference to be returned. The original transaction is later canceled or disputed, and the seller is left out of pocket.
  • Fake Buyer Protection Claims: A scammer might assure you that your transaction is “protected” by Facebook, suggesting that the payment can be withheld until the item is received. However, Facebook Pay doesn’t hold funds in escrow; once a payment is sent, it can’t be held or reversed by Facebook.
  • Fake Payment Portals: Some scammers may create fake websites that look like Facebook Pay to trick users into entering their payment information. Always double-check the web address and ensure it begins with “https” to confirm you are using a legitimate payment portal.

Always confirm payments through your Facebook Pay account and avoid relying on screenshots or messages as proof of payment. Use Facebook Pay’s tools and settings as intended, and do not share sensitive account information. Be cautious of buyers sending excess money or pressuring you to complete transactions outside of Facebook Pay.

Facebook giveaways scam

Facebook giveaways scams exploit the excitement around winning something for free. Scammers set up fake giveaway events or pages, promising extravagant prizes for simply liking, sharing, or providing personal information. Here are signs to recognize and protect yourself from this kind of scam:

  • Too Good To Be True Prizes: If the giveaway promises extravagant prizes (like a new car or a holiday) with very little effort required, it’s a red flag.
  • Like, Share, and Tag: These actions are generally harmless, but scammers use them to spread their fake giveaways to a larger audience. Be wary of giveaways that require you to share the post extensively.
  • Requests for Personal Information: If the giveaway asks for personal details such as your address, phone number, or financial information, steer clear. This is a common tactic used to harvest data for other fraudulent activities.
  • Fake Page Likes and Followers: Scammers often inflate their page likes and followers with fake accounts to appear legitimate. Scrutinize the page for signs of authenticity, such as engagement with the content by real users and the quality and quantity of posts.
  • Faux Official Pages: Some scammers create pages that appear to be affiliated with known brands or celebrities. Check for verification badges and the page’s history to assess credibility.

Remember, legitimate companies do sponsor official giveaways, but they have rules and regulations that are easily accessible and transparent. Always verify through official channels before participating.

When in doubt, do a quick search to see if the giveaway is mentioned on the official brand’s website or their verified social media accounts. If you cannot find any confirmation or details about the giveaway outside of the page you’ve come across, it’s best to exercise caution and assume it’s not legitimate.

Facebook Bait-and-Switch scams

Bait-and-switch scams on Facebook are deceptive tactics where scammers attract victims with an offer of goods or services at a bargain price, only to switch the offer to something less desirable or more expensive. Here’s what to keep an eye out for:

  • Promotional Product Switch: The scam begins with an advertisement for an attractive product at a discounted price. Once you engage, the scammer may say that the advertised product is no longer available and push a more expensive alternative.
  • Service Upgrade Ploy: When offering services, the scammer may offer a basic service at a low rate. Following initial payment, they insist that additional payments are needed for upgraded services that should have been included originally.
  • Phishing Links in Ads: Some bait-and-switch ads lead to external sites that mimic legitimate sites. Once on these sites, you may unknowingly provide sensitive personal information or download malware.
  • Pages Lacking Customer Feedback: Legitimate pages typically have reviews or customer feedback. Be skeptical of pages that don’t allow or show customer interactions.
  • Too Many Sponsored Posts: If your feed is flooded with sponsored posts from a single company, chances are it could be part of a bait-and-switch strategy. This may indicate an attempt to overly promote a service or product that doesn’t live up to its advertising.

To mitigate risk, always research third-party sellers, check reviews from multiple sources, and be cautious when directed to external websites. Legitimate businesses will ensure a transparent process and clear, consistent communication without pressuring customers for immediate purchase or upgrade.

Facebook gift card scams

Facebook gift card scams involve tricksters convincing users to purchase gift cards under the guise of a worthy cause or an emergency situation. These scams are particularly insidious because once the gift card information is shared with the scammer, the funds are nearly impossible to recover. Look out for these warning signs:

  • Emergency Requests: Scammers may pose as friends or family in distress, asking for gift cards to resolve an emergency. They might pressure you for quick action.
  • Donations for Causes: They may claim that the gift cards are for a charitable cause, often using the credibility of real organizations to solicit funds.
  • Prize Winnings: You might be told you’ve won a contest, but to collect your prize you must first pay a fee with a gift card.
  • Offers to Buy: Scammers might offer to buy something from you but will pay using gift cards that turn out to be fake or already used.
  • Unfamiliar Payment Requests: If someone is selling an item but only accepts payment in gift cards, it’s a significant red flag.

To prevent falling victim to such scams, never purchase gift cards for payment or donation if requested via social media. Always verify the identity of the requestor through independent means and never share gift card numbers or PINs online.

If a deal or situation requires payment exclusively in gift cards, it’s almost certainly a scam. Remember, real businesses and charities will have conventional and verifiable methods for payment and donation.

How to report a scam on Facebook marketplace

Of course, it’s not enough to just avoid scams—we all have a responsibility to help keep our community safe by reporting any suspicious activities we come across. If you encounter a scam on Facebook marketplace, here’s what you can do:

  1. Go to the suspicious profile, Page, or Group.
  2. Click on the three dots (…) on the cover photo for profiles and Pages, or next to the Group name.
  3. Select “Find Support or Report Profile,” “Find Support or Report Page,” or “Find Support or Report Group.”
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions, choosing the appropriate options that best describe the scam or fraud you’re reporting.

For individual listings or specific messages indicative of a scam:

  1. Go to the Marketplace listing or directly to the conversation in Messenger.
  2. Click on the three dots (…) next to the listing or the conversation.
  3. Select “Report post” or “Report listing,” if you’re on the listing page.
  4. Choose the reason for the report when prompted and submit.

Always ensure you keep all communication and evidence intact, as Facebook may require additional details during their investigation process. Remember, you can block anyone who seems suspicious to prevent further interaction.


Is it OK to give out your address on Facebook Marketplace?

No. It’s never a good idea to give out your personal information, such as your address, on Facebook Marketplace. Scammers may use this information for identity theft or other fraudulent activities.

What is the safest way to accept payment on Facebook Marketplace?

The safest way to accept payment on Facebook Marketplace is through their official payment system — Facebook Pay (now Meta Pay). This method provides buyers and sellers with added protection and a more secure payment process.

How do I get my money back after being cheated online?

Unfortunately, in most cases, it’s very difficult to get your money back after being cheated online, especially if the payment method you used was not secure. However, you can try contacting your bank or credit card company to see if they can reverse the transaction. You should also report the scam to the relevant authorities and platforms where it occurred.

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