Common Facebook Marketplace Scams and How to Avoid Them

Facebook Marketplace can be a great way to find excellent deals on used or even new items. However, it’s also filled with potential scams, creating a veritable landmine of ways to lose your hard-earned cash or cryptocurrency.

Have you ever seen people saying they were Facebook Marketplace scammed? Unfortunately, the platform’s Marketplace has become filled with scams among genuine sellers and buyers.

It’s crucial for anyone planning on using Marketplace to be aware of the most common scams and how to prevent them. So, let’s break down scams you might come across, how to spot red flags, and what to do if you’ve been scammed.

Common Facebook Scams To Know

You should know the common scams you might come across on Facebook Marketplace if you plan on using the service. Simply knowing these common scams will go far in protecting you from them.

So, let’s explore some of the tactics of scammers so you can avoid them and stay safe while using the app.

PayPal or Crypto Scams

PayPal is allowed on Facebook Marketplace, and if you get scammed on a PayPal transaction, you can contest it and possibly have your money returned by the company. 

But there’s one exception: Friends and Family. PayPal offers this type of transaction to avoid high fees and other charges, but they are not protected like paying a business. You can’t contest them, which makes them used in the PayPal scam Facebook marketplace.

So scammers will ask you to pay as “Friends and Family” but then carry out any of the following scams. You’ll be left unable to file a complaint at the resolution center.

The same can be said about cryptocurrency transactions. Crypto payments are non-reversible by their very nature. This enables scammers to empty your crypto wallet quickly, and there’s very little you can do to reclaim your cryptocurrency. 

Your best chance is hiring a cryptocurrency recovery agency like Lionsgate to track down the scammer and take legal action against them.

Shipping Scams

A shipping scam is a long-running scam that gained popularity on Craigslist and has since spread to most peer-to-peer marketplaces.

Shipping scams are when a buyer or seller uses shipping to manipulate you out of money or the product. The way this plays out depends on which side of the transaction they’re on, such as:

  • Seller shipping scams will try to get you to pay full price or a sizable percentage before they ship the time. They promise they’ll send it afterward and do not.
  • Buyer shipping scams try to get you to send the item and promise to pay ahead when it’s received.

For both scams, the scammer doesn’t follow up on the promise. They either run off with what you sent for the item or receive your item and never pay for it.

The problem with these scams is they seem reasonable at first glance. However, you should never use a platform intended for local transactions for shipping. 

Facebook Marketplace focuses on local transactions and isn’t intended for shipping. You’ll always be taking a gamble, especially when you send crypto or other payment methods that don’t allow chargebacks.

Car Scams

Facebook Marketplace can be a great way to find a used car and get a good deal. However, scammers often use car listings to separate you from your hard-earned cash or crypto.

A seller will ask you to put a deposit down to “hold” the car. You should never send money to hold a car without seeing it in person — this will almost always be a scam. Most of the time, sellers use fake listings, often with used car pictures taken from another website.

Sometimes, the seller will send you to a random location to complete the transaction, only for you to wait for hours and walk away empty-handed.

An even more nefarious version of this scam can also involve robbing you under the assumption that you’ll be carrying a large amount of cash. It’s wise to bring someone else with you or take them to the bank while you withdraw.

Fake Selling Scams

This type of scam involves making in-demand or high-value listings to coerce you into sending money before they ship the item.

Fake sellers may also try to meet up and rob you, knowing you’ll have money on you during the meeting. You should always bring a friend and meet in public.

Another way these scams play out is simply selling counterfeit, bootlegged, or stolen goods without you realizing it until it’s too late. These transactions will play out like a legit sale, but later, you’ll discover you didn’t get what you expected.

Fake Buyer Scams

Many fake buyers on Facebook marketplace show interest in your listing, only intending to get something for nothing.

Fake buyers will often go the route of shipping scams and hope you trust them to pay on receipt. 

Even worse, similar to other scams, sometimes fake buyers go through with the transaction only to rob you in person. They’ll ask to meet in a semi-secluded location and typically bring others to separate you from the item you think you’re selling, plus whatever else you have.

You should avoid shipping transactions entirely and always ask to meet in a busy public location

Tips to Avoid Facebook Marketplace Scams

How can you avoid the scams we detailed above and other scams that may emerge over time? Let’s discuss some simple yet effective ways to prevent being scammed while making peer-to-peer purchases.

Watch for Red Flags

You should always keep the following red flags in mind as you browse listings or create your own:

  • Too good to be true: Is someone selling an in-demand item at a low price? Any transaction that seems too good to be true is probably a scam.
  • Giveaways: Facebook Marketplace isn’t for giveaways; ignore them entirely.
  • “Trust me”: Most of the scams we talked about above rely on trusting a stranger at some point in the transaction. Depend on verifiable facts and consider how they might be scamming.
  • Strange meeting locations: Prevent being robbed by only meeting in public places during the day.

Never Send as “Friends or Family”

You can’t open a complaint with PayPal for “friends or family” transactions. Anyone asking you to do this might be a scammer. It’s true that this avoids fees, which can be good, but someone asking for this is likely a scammer.

Most transactions shouldn’t involve PayPal, and if they do, the transaction should be made after you’ve met up with the seller.

Be Extremely Careful with Crypto

Crypto is non-reversible, but it’s still a compelling way to buy things from people. You don’t have to rule it out entirely, but you must be extremely careful with any transaction.

Only send transactions when you’re in the same place as the seller. Even then, be careful they don’t grab your phone and send a larger one. Only load up a wallet with the money you need and keep the rest of your funds inaccessible.

Ultimately, as much as we love seeing people use cryptocurrency for commerce, the Marketplace probably isn’t the best place.

Steps to Take if You’ve Been Scammed

If you’ve been scammed, you’ll need to know how to report Facebook marketplace scams. You’ll want to double-check the Facebook support site for up-to-date information on reporting a scammer. At the time of writing, the following steps allow you to report sellers or buyers depending.

If you need to report a scam seller, you’ll need to follow the below steps:

  1. Go to to Marketplace
  2. Click the listing from the seller to report
  3. Click the arrow in the top right of the screen
  4. Click on Report Post or Report Seller
  5. Follow the remaining on-screen instructions

If a buyer scammed you, the following steps allow you to report it:

  1. Go to to Marketplace
  2. Click on Selling in the upper left
  3. Click the message between you and the buyer (click Show Listings to the right of Sold if you’ve already marked the post as Sold)
  4. Click the three dots in the top right of the message box
  5. Click Report Buyer
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions

Facebook might not be able to resolve your case, but reporting them at least helps protect other people and create a safer Marketplace.

What About Your Stolen Items or Funds?

Facebook, PayPal, or another fiat payment method may help you recover your funds. If you were in a shipping scam or robbed in person, recovering the item or cash will likely involve contacting the local police department.

But what about cryptocurrency transactions? Payments are non-reversible at a fundamental level, so what can you do? 

Fortunately, you can work with a cryptocurrency recovery agency to attempt to reclaim your funds. These agencies blend legal expertise, blockchain analysis, and cybersecurity intelligence to recover funds.

Lionsgate is a leading crypto recovery agency with the right blend of experience to help reclaim crypto lost in a Facebook Marketplace scam. We’ve helped our clients recover funds from fake exchanges and other types of scams; we might be able to help you, too.

Are you ready to regain your funds? Contact us today for a free consultation to learn how we can help.

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