6 Facebook Marketplace Scams that Prove Scammers Are Evolving

April 26, 2024 • Zachary Amos


Do you know which Facebook Marketplace scams to watch out for? How about what their warning signs are? Scams can affect you whether you’re a buyer or seller. To keep yourself, your Facebook account and your wallet safe, you need to understand what you’re up against.

1. The Bait-and-Switch Scam

In a bait-and-switch scam, the seller doesn’t deliver what was promised. For example, they might advertise $85 for a like-new mountain bike that turns out to be noticeably used or broken. Alternatively, the seller changes the listing after you message them or agree to buy the item.

Warning Signs

A suspiciously low price should raise red flags. Listings where the seller advertises the item as $0 — even though it isn’t free — are a sign the seller is just trying to maximize their interaction.  

Do This Instead

Buy locally so you can see listing items in person and make sure they’re just as advertised. If that’s not an option, ask for timestamped video proof of the item. Request the shipment’s tracking number to see where it’s going and when it’s arriving. 

2. The Family Pickup Scam

If you’ve ever posted something on Facebook Marketplace, you’ve probably received something along the lines of, “I’m unavailable for pick up, but my — insert random acquaintance — can get it for me. I’ll pay you now.” This is one of the most common Facebook Marketplace scams.

They do this because they can claim they never received the item, which is technically true — their acquaintance did. That way, they can get a refund and the item. Alternatively, they want to trick you into handing over your contact information so they can launch a phishing attack. 

Warning Signs 

The potential buyer asks to send someone else to pick up the listing item and won’t budge even when you offer alternative times or meeting places.  

Do This Instead

Tell the buyer you’ll hold the item or meet in the middle so they can come themselves instead of sending a third party. If they’re adamant, tell them you’ll only take cash for a third-party pickup. Scammers can’t ask for a refund if you use cash, so they’d leave you alone at that point.

If you still want to sell to them — which we don’t recommend — ask for the third party’s name and picture. When that person arrives to pick up the item, get photo or video proof that it’s the same person. This way, the buyer can’t claim they never received the package. 

3. The Pay in Advance Scam

Sellers sometimes ask buyers to pay in advance because an item is too valuable or popular. When they get the money, they disappear. 

Warning Signs 

If you get a message right after posting, it’s probably a scam. Bots were responsible for nearly half of all internet traffic in 2022, so it’s not a stretch to assume they’ll contact you. 

Do This Instead

Never pay for an item before it gets delivered. Sellers won’t receive funds until after delivery confirmation, anyway. 

4. The Zelle Scam

Why do scammers use Zelle? It’s because Zelle doesn’t have an in-app digital wallet. Instead, it pulls money directly out of your bank account. In other words, it’s basically impossible to reverse a transfer and get your money back if something goes wrong.

If the seller asks to use Zelle, they’ll disappear without delivering your purchase. If the buyer asks to use Zelle, they’ll send a phishing email stating you don’t have a “business account” and claim you need to upgrade your transfer limit — meaning they trick you into paying them.

Warning Signs 

Any mention of Zelle should set off red flags because it’s a common medium for Facebook Marketplace scams.

Do This Instead

Stick to Messenger payments — it has added protections, so scammers don’t like to use it. Don’t accept payment methods like Zelle, where refunds are impossible to secure. Keep conversations on Facebook Marketplace so you can report scammers more easily.

5. The Pay Over Asking Scam

Facebook Marketplace is notorious for haggling — you could post a brand new loveseat for $50 and you’d still have people asking, “Is $15 okay?” In other words, you should be very wary of people offering to pay over your asking price.

The goal of the pay-over-asking scam is to get money. Scammers use a stolen credit card, claiming the overpayment was an accident after delivery. While they end up with the item and a partial refund, you get nothing — the remaining payment is fraudulent, so it declines. 

Warning Signs 

Someone offers to pay over asking because they like the item, need to cover the cost of movers or want to pay it forward. 

Do This Instead

Don’t accept any amount over asking, even if the buyer’s intentions seem good. Be wary of those who use stories to tug on your heartstrings or lure you into a false sense of security.

6. The Verification Code Scam 

Facebook Marketplace scammers will ask for the one-time passcodes they send you to take over your Facebook account or email. For example, they might ask to send you a code to verify your identity, claiming they’ve been scammed before. 

Warning Signs

An unprompted verification code or one-time passcode signifies a phishing attempt. If anyone you interact with on Facebook Marketplace asks for those codes, passcodes or passwords, they’re a scammer. 

Do This Instead

Facebook Marketplace scams use spoofed email addresses to trick you into handing over your account. Avoid this by ignoring those messages and blocking the individual. 

How to Report Facebook Marketplace Scams

According to fraud experts, an estimated 34% of listings on Facebook Marketplace are scams and the platform caused nearly $200,000 in daily losses on average in 2023 because of them. Don’t think you’re immune to them — know the signs and report suspicious activity to stay safe.

You can report Facebook marketplace scams directly to Facebook. If the scammer blocked you, you’ll need to ask a friend or use a second account. Provide as much detail in your report as possible — like screenshots and links — to guarantee they get removed from the platform. 

Report Facebook Marketplace Sellers

Go to the left-hand menu in your feed and click Marketplace. Then, click on Buying, the seller’s listing, the seller’s name, Report Seller and Scam. Follow the on-screen instructions to finish your submission.

Report Facebook Marketplace Buyers

Go to the left-hand menu in your feed and click Marketplace. Then, click on Your Account, Your Listings, the listing the buyer purchased, the messages between you and Report Buyer. Follow the on-screen instructions to finish your submission.

Report Facebook Marketplace Listings

In your feed, click on the listing you want to report. Then, click on the three horizontal dots below the listing’s title. Select Report Listing and Scam. Follow the on-screen instructions to finish your submission.

Stay Aware of Facebook Marketplace Scams

Facebook Marketplace scams are evolving — they’ve gone from easily identifiable malicious links to complex, multi-step schemes. Keep an eye out for red flags whether you’re buying or selling. Ignore and report any suspicious activity to be safe.