BBB warns of social media marketplace scam

BBB warns of social media marketplace scam
(Source: BBB of Southwest Louisiana)

The Better Business Bureau is issuing a warning to social media users to avoid getting scammed on the Facebook Marketplace.

The marketplace on the social site can be a great place to find deals, but like any online classified, be careful before handing over any money.

The BBB is seeing reports of Facebook Marketplace scams in BBB Scam Tracker, especially for big ticket items like used cars and RVs.

Here's 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 saying that they are out of the country, in the military, or otherwise unavailable. The person then 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 a chance 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." They will act as an escrow service. If you are unhappy with your purchase, you can simply return for a full refund. Since 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. Some scammers have even gone as far as creating fake invoices from "Amazon" or "eBay," stealing their logos to make the invoices look real.

How to avoid scams on Facebook Marketplace:

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.

Report scams to Facebook. If you've encounter a scam on Facebook Marketplace, report them.

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