Business & Real Estate

Better Business Bureau: beware of scammers on Facebook Marketplace and meet in person

Facebook Marketplace may be a great place to find deals on items for sale in your neighborhood, but like any online classified site, watch for warning signs before handing over money. The Better Business Bureau reports Facebook Marketplace scams on its BBB Scam Tracker, especially for big-ticket items such as used cars and RVs.

How the scam works

You are shopping on Facebook Marketplace and spot a listing that looks like a good deal, so you contact the seller. The seller replies, claiming that he or she is out of the country, in the military or otherwise unavailable. Instead, the person tells you they are using “eBay,” “Amazon” or another reputable third-party company to sell and ship the item.

The seller assures you that you will have the opportunity to see and test-drive the vehicle before committing to a purchase. However, you must first wire money or send funds via pre-paid debit card to “Amazon” or “eBay,” which will act as an escrow service. If you are unhappy with your purchase, the seller advises, you can simply return it for a full refund. Because you have confidence in the site being used for escrow, you agree.

Unfortunately, both the third-party service and the seller are a con. The car or other item doesn’t exist.

How to avoid scams

• Always meet the seller and see the item for sale before purchasing. This will help you avoid most scams on Facebook Marketplace. This is also true for housing rentals. If you can’t tour the house or apartment before renting it, it’s likely not available.

• Avoid deals involving shipping or escrow services. This scam is only one take on this trend. Avoid them by purchasing directly from the seller.

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