The 8 Top Facebook Marketplace Scams of 2020 (and How to Avoid Them)

Keep aware of these scams when buying or selling

Facebook Marketplace can be a great and convenient way of finding a bargain in your local area, but much like Craigslist, it can be host to a number of different scams trying to steal your money through nefarious means. Here's a look at the top Facebook Marketplace scams out there at the moment, as well as details on how to report a scammer on Facebook.

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Sold a Fake Product

A rubber stamp stamping 'fake' in red ink on top of a piece of paper adorned with 'authentic'

 Olivier Le Moal / Getty Images

Spotted a bargain on Facebook Marketplace? If it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is. This scam involves sellers offering authentic products at a very low price. Once you pick the item up, it turns out it's counterfeit and far lower quality than the original you wanted to purchase.

The key to avoiding this scam is to be aware that often very cheap products aren't what they seem to be. If you do want to take a risk, make sure you collect the product in person and you check the item over carefully before accepting it. Never have the seller post you the item.

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Sold a Broken or Dangerous Item

An iPhone with a cracked and damaged screen

Irina Dobrolyubova / Getty Images 

There's very little protection for buyers on Facebook Marketplace when it comes to buying damaged or potentially dangerous goods. This can occur when someone tries to sell a broken electrical item or simply goods that haven't fully passed safety checks, such as toys from countries that have different legislation to the buyer's country. 

Always meet up in person to buy the item, and inspect it thoroughly for any potential damage. If it's an electrical item, ask to see the item working before you hand over your cash. Don't accept any excuses. 

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Missing Purchased Item

A wrapped parcel on the stone based ground

Rosmarie Wirz / Getty Images


Some Facebook Marketplace scammers encourage you that it would be easier if they mail the item to you. For instance, you could agree to a price on an item and arrange to meet in person, before being told the seller can't meet up when you want to. They then suggest they mail it to you (tracked) in a bid to save you both time and effort. The item then never arrives because it never existed, and you've just sent them money with no comeback.

Facebook Marketplace is designed for local dealings, and you should stick to that principle. Never agree to having an item mailed to you. If the seller is genuine, they'll be happy to re-arrange and meet up a different day. 

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Using an Unusual Form of Payment

A woman sitting in front of her computer screen with her hand in her hair, looking confused

Caiaimage / Paul Viant / Getty Images 

You agree to purchase an item on Facebook Marketplace, and the seller suggests you pay via Paypal Friends & Family to avoid fees. Don't do it. There's no protection available to you by using this method. Also, if you're a seller, you should be wary of any kind of unusual payment method such as Venmo, as it can lead to you being scammed out of the item if a claim back is made, such as if stolen credit cards have been used to set up the account. 

Always pay with cash in person. Never use an insecure payment method that doesn't fully protect you.

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Being Robbed

A thief stealing something from the backpack of someone while they're still wearing it

boonchai wedmakawand / Getty Images 

Many Facebook Marketplace scams are a nuisance, but not dangerous. However, sometimes, a seller might suggest you meet somewhere private and that could be dangerous for you.

Always arrange to meet in a public place during daylight hours. Don't go to a stranger's house or anywhere suspicious, especially at night. 

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Paying in Advance

A person in front of a laptop with a credit card in their hand

Virojt Changyencham / Getty Images 

Some sellers can suggest you pay in advance so as to confirm you definitely wish to buy the item. They might suggest they want to double check you're not a wasting their time, relying on you to be good natured and agree to this. Never pay before you receive the item. 

This is another reason why you should only ever make a purchase in person, so that neither you or the seller can feel at risk of being scammed. 

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Fake Overpayment

A man sitting on a sofa typing credit card details into their laptop

Hero Images / Getty Images

When selling an item on Facebook Marketplace, there's a particularly sneaky way of duping you out of money. It occurs when a scammer contacts you to purchase item then suggests they pay in advance via PayPal. The seller then receives a fake but official-looking email suggesting they've been paid more than the asking price. The buyer then asks the seller to refund them the difference to their bank account. In reality, no money has been sent to the seller. 

Always stick to trusted methods of payment such as exchanging in person, and be aware of any emails you receive. 

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Using a Fake Facebook Profile

A man looking at his smartphone while sitting at a desk

Roberto Westbrook / Getty Images 

Most scammers set up fresh Facebook profiles to scam people with. Check a seller's personal profile to see if it looks like a regular Facebook account. Is it suspiciously empty? It's almost certainly a fake account. If you want to be extra sure, ask them about something to do with your local area. If they're genuine and from your locality, they should know what to say. 

If in doubt, walk away.

I'm Already a Victim. What Should I Do? 

Realized you're a victim of one of these Facebook Marketplace frauds? Learn how to spot fake websites and scams so it never happens again, and make sure to report it to Facebook via the listing and select either Report Post or Report Seller.