Top 15 Facebook Marketplace scams and how to avoid them

Ali Qamar Last updated: September 17, 2022 Read time: 17 minutes Disclosure

Fraudsters have pestered trading since humankind invented it. Even when trades occur on the most technologically advanced platforms, the risk of being scammed remains, and Facebook Marketplace is no exception. Therefore, every Facebook user must become aware of the risks involved in the platform. This article tells you how to spot fishy deals and what to do about them.

Sneak peek at Facebook Marketplace scams

In ancient Rome, Mercury was the god of both thieves and traders. That’s not a coincidence. Trading has given thieves the best chances to practice their craft throughout human history. Unfortunately, that has never changed, and new trading platforms such as Facebook Marketplace only provide thieves with new opportunities to abuse the goodwill of legitimate traders. Thus, staying safe starts with awareness about Facebook Marketplace scams – how they happen and how to prevent them – which you will get from this article.

Facebook Marketplace has had a checkered history. It went from a miserable failure to a great trading platform after its re-introduction in 2016. Today, it’s a great place to sell and buy anything online. And don’t underestimate Facebook’s sheer size. The billions of users active on Facebook make it easy for numerous listings to be available for any user, regardless of the physical location.

However, nothing is ever perfect, including Facebook. Hence, the platform has some disadvantages, and the Facebook Marketplace scams are among the main ones.

If you’re going to join the Facebook Marketplace world, you must keep yourself safe from those scams. That means knowing what threats you could face, how to prevent them, and knowing how to deal with them if they happen. Let us tell you all about it!

Facebook Marketplace top scams – The quick list

We will deal with each type of scam in detail later in this article. But for those who are in a rush and only need to read the gist of it, here’s our quick list.

  1. Counterfeits. There are expensive products on sale as legitimate while they’re fake.
  2. Gift card scams. The scammer will request payment in gift cards. Then he ghosts you. Since the cards are anonymous, there’s nothing you can do.
  3. Bait and switch. One product is in the ad, but the actual item is of lesser quality.
  4. Broken merchandise. Broken things are sold as new, functional things.
  5. Fake rentals. Listings of houses and flats for rent that are not there.
  6. QR code scams. A QR code arrives. Supposedly it ensures that the buyer has the correct account. Then the seller gets charged instead as the code gets scanned.
  7. Car deposits. A buyer pays a car deposit (or advance for something else) for a fraudulent listing.
  8. Overpaying. A seller claims overpayment. He shows a screenshot (fake) to make his case and then asks the buyer to pay for the extra.
  9. Fake giveaways. Giveaways that are actually phishing attacks.
  10. IELTS/TOEFL and other certificates. A seller claims he can provide you with a false test certificate.

That’s the quick list of 10 scams. But there’s a lot more to be said about each type of scam. And there are some things you can do when you fall victim to such online scams. But, of course, the optimal thing is to never suffer from this problem. And you’re on the right track for that since the first step is awareness.

15 most widely practiced Facebook Marketplace scams today

A Facebook Marketplace scammer’s first order of business is to trick you. His job is to make you pay for something you’ve never wanted, for a start. Then you won’t get the merchandise, or it will be very defective, or it will turn out to be something very different than what you expected.

However, that’s not the whole story. Facebook Marketplace allows both buying and selling, and scams run both ways. So you can also get scammed as a seller by somebody who presents himself as a legitimate buyer. Then he’ll play tricks to squeeze some money away from the seller.

In Facebook Market, as in so many other things in life, prevention is much more effective than any posterior measure. Prevention starts with awareness that leads to recognizing a fishy deal when you come across it. So let’s look at the most common scams you could find on Facebook Marketplace today.

1. Mailed items

You need to know that mailed items are riskier as potential scams than picking things up yourself. Don’t forget that you trust your seller to send you the items after you’ve paid for them. And they could decide not to do it. 

You can lower the risk with the Marketplace’s location function. It allows you to pinpoint your physical location and set a radius around you of a few kilometers. Thus you can set up your transaction for meeting the seller personally, seeing your product, and picking it up.

Of course, not every city or town has an economic activity that will allow you to find all the products you want. But if you are in this situation, we advise you to buy those things in a trustworthy web shop, not through Facebook Marketplace. It’s clear how a given Facebook Marketplace trade can be attractive as it would seem to save you a few dollars on an object you want. However, if you lose everything because of a scam, you will wish you had gone to Amazon –or whatever similar option.

If you absolutely must get a product mailed via Facebook Marketplace, you must ensure to use Facebook Checkout to protect your purchase. Also, ask for a working trace number for following your parcel on the web.


2. Counterfeit merchandise

Counterfeit items have been the bane of trading since times immemorial. Facebook Marketplace couldn’t be the exception. However, the Facebook trading platform amplifies the risk of buying counterfeits exponentially. The website is global. Anybody has access, and tracking down the sellers can be a nightmare. So if the threat of counterfeit is real wherever you buy something (online or otherwise), Facebook Marketplace makes it much more manageable.

Counterfeit merchandise looks like the real deal on the surface and gets a price tag with the legitimate product.