What the Tech: Facebook Marketplace and CraigsList scams

Consumer technology reporter Jamey Tucker explains, when it comes to the marketplace, buyers beware.
Consumer technology reporter Jamey Tucker explains, when it comes to the marketplace, buyers beware.
Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 11:20 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - It wasn’t that long ago that many people were apprehensive to shop online. Now, thanks to Amazon and other online retailers, spending money over the internet is something a lot of people no longer worry about.

In the past two years, shopping on Facebook Marketplace has become one of the biggest online sellers with more than 1 billion active sellers and shoppers.

Sellers on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are more susceptible to serious crimes such as robberies and assaults. When buying things on those online storefronts, the risks are primarily scams.

“Free Shipping” claims

Facebook Marketplace sprinkles in sponsored ads with search results and many offer free shipping. If you’re buying something to be shipped you cannot inspect the item ahead of time to determine whether it’s a fake. Counterfeits are most common in clothing, accessories, and electronics.

Use plastic

The other scam risk for buyers is with the transaction itself. Facebook recommends using a credit card, debit card, or PayPal. If you pay for the item with a debit card, the money comes out of your bank account immediately and you probably won’t be able to get your money back using Facebook’s purchase protection. It’s best to use a credit card or PayPal which will refund your money if the item is different than how it was described.

Stay on one platform

Be wary if a seller wants to move the conversation to another platform such as text If they ask you to pay with Venmo, Cash App, or Zelle, there is no protection for your purchase.

Check out the seller’s Facebook profile. Do you have any mutual friends? Does their Facebook profile look empty with no posts and no personal information? It could be a fake.

Meet at a safe location

If you decide to purchase the item ask that they meet you at the police department parking lot. If they refuse it may be because they don’t want to be anywhere near police officers.

Keep your phone to yourself

This one may be obvious, but people do fall for it, if you’re meeting a seller using a cash app, don’t hand them your phone to complete the transaction. They can move as much money as they want from your account to theirs just like that, and you can’t get it back.

If you are scammed on Facebook Marketplace, CraigsList, or another online shopping site, notify your local police department, then report the crime to the Federal Trade Commission’s fraud unit at ReportFraud.ftc.gov

Subscribe to our News 10 newsletter and receive the latest local news and weather straight to your email every morning.