Facebook Marketplace is an easy, common and convenient way to sell items. However, unfortunately, it is also a common way scammers are using social media to take your money.
Recently, scammers have been using P2P Platforms, such as Zelle® to trick buyers into upgrading to a “business account” and sending more money than the item is listed for.
Here’s How this Scam Works:**
- Buyer (Scammer) contacts a seller through Facebook Marketplace messenger requesting to buy the item and pay using Zelle®.
- If the seller agrees, buyer asks for the seller’s email to send the payment — But the buyer does not send payment.
- Buyer sends a fake email to the seller that appears to be from Zelle®. The email states that the buyer paid using a Zelle® business account and that the seller must also upgrade to a Zelle® business account to receive payment — for a fee of a few hundred dollars. (See example of an email below)
- Buyer then contacts the seller directly, claiming that they received the same email from Zelle® and, to make things easy, sends the seller enough money to cover the purchase and the upgrade fee.
- Then they ask to be reimbursed by the seller for the upgrade fee.
- Scammer provides fake screen captures and documentation as proof of payment to persuade seller to send the refund without first checking their account to verify receipt of payment.
Scammers also are using the same tactic with other common P2P platforms such as Venmo or Cash App.
How to Avoid Becoming the Victim of this Scam and all other Social Media Scams:*
- Avoid accepting payments from services like Venmo, Zelle® and Cash App – Rather, use protective services such as PayPal and Facebook Checkout.
- Never give out private information to someone online that you’ve never met.
- Do not accept gift card payments.
- Do not pay in advance of receiving the item.
- Look for red flags in emails – including typos and other grammatical errors.
- Do not click on any suspicious links.