Facebook Marketplace – UK Scams

Quick post as I’ve been having a clear out of junk this last year and found a massive proliferation of scams from ‘buyers’.

The scams pulled by sellers are covered pretty well and in the main obvious – with fake items, promises to post items if you pay in advance etc.

If you turn up, check the item, pay cash and then leave with it you should be as safe as any car boot or yard sale. Try to avoid getting mugged though.

For sellers the scams are a little more clever and annoying but given eBay charges are ridiculous it’s still worth using if you can avoid the scams.

  1. Dodgy link

You post an item and get a message from a buyer. It seems harmless. “Hey I like the item, is it like this one in link below?”

Seem innocent enough, click the link, help the buyer out, make a sale.

No. Notice how they never reference what the item is, just ‘item’ as it’s a generic message sent to umpteen sellers. Occasionally they will make the effort to change the item to reference what you’re selling.

The link will take you somewhere dodgy AF and likely install malware/virus or try and trick you into entering your FB login again so they can steal your account for more dodgy activity.

I’ve never clicked the link. Dare you?
  1. Payment by courier in cash (normally UPS)

Buyer wants the item and is happy to arrange courier. Great. They’re even going to send the cash with the courier so you’ll get the money, they’ll take the item, so surely no issue?

Agree to go ahead and they’ll be delighted, maybe confirm address and everything. Then they come back and advise the courier wants insurance payment to deliver the money. For some manufactured reason you need to pay this yourself but the seller will add the cost to the cash payment. No problem.

They send you a link to a moderately believable UPS website and you enter your card details and pay around £15. It’s probably only when you click send you start to have your doubts. At best you’ve lost that £15 at worst they’ve stolen your payment details and you’re about to be rinsed by the seller for every penny they can get from your account.

At least they were honest in the lie!
  1. Fake banking app

Phone banking is great. Cash is dead. Nice lady comes to buy your iPhone and uses her phone to pay. She even shows you the confirmation screen to prove it’s in the account. You pass over the phone and wave her off.

The app is fake. The confirmation screen was bogus. You’ve got no cash and given away your phone. Their account is deleted before they’ve pulled out the drive and they’ll never be seen again.

General tips –

  • Don’t get angry at the profile or the picture if you’re scammed. It’s certain to be stolen from another account.
  • Don’t re-arrange your plans around buyers. Most never show up. If someone wants something agree a collection time when you’re at home mowing the lawn or making dinner anyway. If you move meetings, appointments or hot dates to be in for an agreed collection they won’t show. Even if someone says “I need it now, I’ll be right over” and you figure you can be a little late to meet the boys at the pub so agree, they won’t show up.
  • Don’t hold stuff for people but be honest “Sure you can pick up at weekend if still here but if someone turns up before I’ll sell it to them.” You’re not being an arse just allowing for the fact they almost certainly won’t show up anyway.
  • Don’t waste time on Messenger replies. You’ll get dozens of “Is item available?” message. Answer yes then get on with your life rather than invest time in further chatter or selling. 10% of buyers will come back with further queries or to arrange payment. Spend time on them.
  • You can put as much detail in the description as you want, most will never read it and ask the same stupid questions. Wait until you’ve got a handful of messages asking the same thing then just copy and paste the description back in the messages to all.
  • Any Messenger conversation that goes a day without a message from them is dead. Delete and move on.
  • If you accept PayPal then insist it’s Friends & Families. This can’t be reversed. If they use Goods & Services not only do you pay a small fee out of the payment but they can easily reverse it leaving you with no cash and no item.
  • If the item is almost worthless then just stick it for free and get it gone. Once someone is interested agree a time, leave it out for collection and let them know it’s for Covid reasons. You’ve stopped something going to landfill and helped someone out.