Security Tips

Selling an item on online marketplace platforms? Beware of this ongoing scam.

A new scam has been making the rounds. It’s been in existence for a couple of months but it’s now becoming much more frequent to encounter. Facebook Marketplace and other similar online marketplace platforms have recently become target of crafty fraudsters targeting victims who are trying to sell their items. Busy as they are, scammers will ask if they can organise a collection by FedEx or UPS for your item.

“I will take it, but I am busy all week, I’ll send a UPS letter carrier to your home to give you your money in cash and collect the item.” One might easily think that having someone coming right to your doorstep with an envelope full of money for the item you’re trying to sell is a dream come true. There’s nothing to lose! You just need to provide your address for the courier to come over and the email address for processing by the delivery firm. And that’s the catch…

Not only don’t delivery firms, such a FedEx and UPS, offer such services, but scammers will then inform you that you will probably receive an email from the firm to pay a small fee as insurance on the envelope supposedly carrying your money, claiming that this is a requirement from the delivery provider. But “don’t worry about this” as they will also promise to leave the additional amount in the envelope to cover this expense. So again, you would think of this small payment as an investment since you will get that money back with the rest of the price you’ve originally asked for when selling the item. Still nothing to lose here, one might think.

However, scammers will then send you a fake email pretending to be from the delivery company where you need to deposit the said insurance money. This will include details such as a fake tracking number and a soon to expire due date to make it seem authentic and urgent, but if you go ahead, you’ll end up providing the Bank Card details to the scammer and no such delivery service will ever arrive.

Be careful, scammers will refuse a no. They will persist and may start claiming that they will lose the money because the delivery order cannot be cancelled.

How can you spot a scammer?

  • Beware of this pattern of events.
  • Look at the person’s profile as this could give off some red flags. A recent posted photo of a beautiful view in a nearby city does not mean that the person lives nearby. It could have been easily stolen or edited to make it look real.
  • Verify the account’s creation date. You should proceed cautiously if the account contacting you was only recently created (within the past few weeks or months). This may indicate that it was purposely created to scam innocent people.

How can Facebook Marketplace be used effectively?

  • When buying or selling on Facebook Marketplace, it is always best to meet in person. Most sellers prefer to meet in person and deal in cash only to ensure a legitimate transaction.
  • Make sure it’s a well-lit public meeting spot.
  • Steer clear of payment links and signing in directly through the payment method’s website.

This Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign is co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Cybersecurity Competence Centre. Neither the European Union nor the European Cybersecurity Competence Centre can be held responsible for them.

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