Vancouver Police recently came across a growing scam running on social media giant Facebook's buy-and-sell site called Marketplace. The way this new scam works is not a recent phenomenon.
A scammer posts terms for sale and arranges a conversation with potential buyers. Then the scammers convince the victims into sending an e-transfer payment before the meeting or sometimes ask a phone number to send a code to ensure the buyer is not a scammer.
But in reality, the scammers are looking to gain access to the user's account.
The investigations led the Vancouver Police Department to track at least 50 victims of this Facebook Marketplace-related scam.
Another agency, Cyber-Forensics.net, a cyber forensics service dedicated to helping online scam victims, believes "people posing as sellers on Facebook Marketplace use multiple bank accounts, fake names, and various mobile numbers to execute these frauds."
The Curious Case of Kathy Donovan
A person may want to sell something on the Marketplace, like a smartwatch, and moments later, someone messages they're interested. But they want to answer on Facebook. So, they ask for a personal mobile number.
Kathy Donovan recalls a similar incident when an online seller on Marketplace wanted to make sure Kathy wasn't a scammer. Hence, the scammer needed Kathy's phone number.
After Donovan gave the trickster her mobile number, she received a Google alert with a code. Following the instructions of the scammer, Donovan gave the seller the code. Lucky for Donovan, the code didn't work because it was Google verified, blocking access for the scammer.
Donovan soon realized she almost got scammed and didn't even see it coming. Kathy Donovan changed her old passwords to all her accounts quickly and unlinked accounts from Google.
Unfortunately, millions of users fail to identify such scams until it's too late. Account recovery specialist Peter Thompson says, "getting out of Facebook Marketplace can be a hassle. Nowadays, apps store passwords for everything."
What’s Facebook’s Take?
Facebook Marketplace has few regulations on transactions. However, Purchase Protection covers many products that aim to provide peace of mind when buyers purchase anything. But this plan doesn’t cover transactions made through third-party websites or local transactions when buyer and seller meet in person.
The platform's parent company, Meta, informs that they require products and services for sale on their platforms to comply with Facebook's "Commerce Policies" and standards. Meta can ban people from using Facebook who misleads consumers, deceive them, or conduct fraudulent activities. There are other consequences such as listing removal, product tag rejection, and termination of access to the channel.
Meta says, “it has removed billions of fake profiles in the past year. But still, scammers keep finding ways to trick people.”
An excellent way to protect against Facebook Marketplace scams is to look at the user profiles. See how long the so-called seller has been using the same shape. If the profile is relatively new, the chances are that the same profile has been created just with the intent to trick users.
While this is just one way, Cyber-Forensics.net’s chief analyst Timothy Benson realized the danger of these scams and recommended a few tips:
Cyber-Forensics.net Recommended Tips to Avoid Facebook Marketplace Scams:
Be cautious when sharing phone numbers with unknown people.
Contact Facebook in case of any suspicious activity in the account.
Check the profile before paying the amount: A scammer can create fake profiles on the Marketplace pretty quickly and put something up for sale which has no value at all.
Report the matter: Victims can report the suspicious advertisements to Facebook and take precautions while making online payments. They can also contact cyber cells and report the sellers trying to take advantage of buyers.
Read Purchase Protection Policy Carefully: Scammers take advantage of buyers who are usually unaware of Facebook’s Purchase Protection Policies and can create gullible circumstances to fool buyers.
Recognize signs of a scammer: A leading survey conducted by a finance expert informs “a massive six people out of 10 have fallen victim to Facebook Marketplace scams. The most common way is tricking people into believing fake profiles. But a few steps can help users identify the scammers before purchasing anything on the Marketplace:
- Handle new Facebook Profiles with care.
- Don’t hand the cash until the item is received.
- Think about the way to pay.
- Ask for a refund if the purchased item is damaged.
- Ask to get tracking ids on items once shipped.
- Be cautious if the price listing changes.
- Block and report sellers harassing buyers for payment immediately.
How to recover money lost in Facebook Marketplace Scam?
Unlike e-commerce websites like Amazon, Facebook Marketplace doesn’t necessarily operate on a strictly supervised business model. Therefore getting the refunds back in case of dispute can be challenging. According to expert suggestions, hiring a fund recovery company is most profitable if the amount lost is enormous.
Bitcoin recovery services inform that Facebook doesn’t take responsibility for the refunds directly. It usually depends on the courtesy of the seller whether they will refund the amount. And when the sellers refuse to pay back the buyers, the only resort for online buyers is to seek legal help like police intervention or get fund recovery experts involved who can decrease the damage of the financial crisis.
Cyber-Forensics.net is committed to providing the most accurate tracing service for victims of online scams. Cyber-Forensics.net empowers and simplifies the process of tracking down the cyber-criminals and assists in recovering the funds and creating an atmosphere for a negotiated settlement. For more information, please visit http://cyber-forensics.net/.