Avoiding Marketplace Scams
Sioux County and area law enforcement have observed an uptick in scams being completed online using Facebook Marketplace and other online “swap” pages.
The most common scam occurring involves the fraudster advertising an item or service, with a price that is “too good to be true.” The fraudster then engages the victim in conversation about the items, and requests deposit or payment to be paid via Venmo, or another online payment service.
When the victim sends the payment to the Venmo account provided by the fraudster, the fraudster will claim they didn’t receive the payment, even though the payment was processed out of the victim’s account. The victim will then receive a text message purporting to be from Venmo, that the transaction did not go through, when in reality, the text message is coming from the fraudster using a different number.
The fraudster will continue to push the victim to send “another deposit,” or more money for the item, which does not in fact even exist. In some cases, the Venmo accounts being used by the fraudsters have different names than the Marketplace sellers.
Some key things to keep in mind when looking at an item or conversing with the seller online:
- Is the price of this item or service significantly lower than normal, or seem too good to be true?
- Look at the Facebook profile of the seller; if purchasing on a local Swap group, does the seller appear to be from the area? Most scammers will have only a few photos on their Facebook profile, all of them uploaded within a short time period before.
- Offer to meet in person to see the item, before making a deposit.
- Is the seller becoming upset, or pushy when it comes to you purchasing the item?
- If paying for an item or deposit via an online-payment service, such as Venmo, confirm that the Venmo account username matches the name of the person you have been speaking with on Marketplace. If possible, handle all payments in person after you have viewed the item/service you intend on purchasing.
We would like to remind everyone to protect themselves and be mindful of who they’re interacting with when attempting to purchase items on Marketplace and other Swap Groups. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
If you have questions regarding this scam, any others, or feel you may be a victim, please reach out to your local law enforcement agency.