How to spot Facebook Marketplace scams

With the pandemic going for more than 1 year (And still no end in sight), shipping has become a popular option for shopping on Facebook Marketplace. And that’s why scamming skyrocketed. To make the matters worse, Facebook provides little to no shopper protection. Your safety is yours to care about. So how to spot and stay away from scam, beside of other health safety procedures?

If a deal seems to be too good to be true, it is likely is. At this point of writing, PlayStation 5 is most frequently scammed. Anything which is less than 5500 SEK for the standard edition is suspicious. Scalpers who sell high demand product at much higher price than MSRP are another issue, but they are not mutually exclusive. A scammer can try to sell at higher price to make it more “authentic”, but most will try to lure more unsuspecting buyers by low prices.

Photos with low quality are another red flag. It is likely that the seller did not take the photos himself/herself but download from other listing, then upload again. Every time you upload photos to Facebook they reduce the quality a bit to reduce size. Do that a few times and you will notice the artifacts in the photo. If the photo is blurry or pixeled, take that as a warning.

Commerce profile too new: anything newer than 2019 should be questionable. Especially someone with very few friends. Check their profile if you think they are an actual person behind it.

Only offer shipping is another red flag. While some authentic sellers would prefer less contact, it is uncommon. Shipping means you have to Swish (a quick money transfer method in Sweden) before hand, and that means you have no guarantee once you did. If you Swish

Also, check if that seller is selling multiple items, and for each item, a new location is listed. That means the seller is trying to scam you into thinking he/she is far away, so shipping is required.

An example of a scammer

My not very proud experience is that I was scammed myself. I was browsing the MarketPlace, and saw a game (Ratchet & Clank PS5), for a very good price (250kr compared to normally 450-500kr or even more, because the game was new). Contacted the seller, he was responsive, and even offered 50:50 split on shipping cost. I checked his profile, everything seems to check out, so I took the bait. Swish-ed him 270kr. Waited for a few days. The game never came. Ask him if he shipped it, he said yes. Waited for a few days more and asked him what would he do. He never replied. Only a few days later, another buyer reported him for scamming. Same tactic, only this time he admitted to that buyer he never sent the game (a different one), and promised to refund the money. He never did.

Deep down, I wanted him to not be scammer. I even felt a bit sorry for him. What state would he be in, so he has to scam over that small amount of money. Only after a while, I realized he did it systematically. He scams that amount so most people will just accept it and move on. Even if they report him to the police (as the said buyer did), they will likely not do anything about it. He gets away with scamming multiple people like that.

Facebook protection for buyers is a joke. The most you can do is to report the listing as Scam, and they still do nothing about it. So better be cautious and protect yourself.

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