Fake sellers are targeting a particular group of people on Facebook Marketplace, with one woman losing more than $600.
A woman has been scammed more than $600, while others claim to have also been tricked when buying bicycle parts on Facebook Marketplace.
The keen cyclist, who wished not to be named, transferred $600 for the component for a bike she was building and $25 for postage, only to have the seller, who was posing as a family man from regional Victoria, delete their profile and be wiped from the internet.
“I was really annoyed with them and I guess with myself that it had happened,” the woman told news.com.au, adding that she was a regular buyer on the platform and considered herself cautious.
“It just shows it must be pretty easy to do, to set up a fake profile … their profile is there and then it’s just gone and you have no trace of them.
“Usually we go onto the person’s profile and see if they’ve sold anything before on certain groups, how many friends they’ve got, just to make sure they’re legit. It seemed like this person was legit so we thought it would be OK.”
It wasn’t until a couple of days after the money had been paid that the woman and her partner realised the seller’s profile and ad had been deleted.
At first she said she thought there may have been another reason the profile was deleted, until they found the same pictures of the component, a groupset, on Gumtree selling for double the price.
“That’s when the penny dropped and it sunk in,” she said.
Less than a week later another cyclist posted in an Australian bicycle group warning about another fake seller who had taken his money and then deleted their account.
In the comments, people shared similar experiences.
“He’s been pulling this scam for months now. Somehow he’s still getting people. This is the third time I’ve seen that crankset and people getting ripped off,” one commenter wrote.
“Funny I was just talking to them about another item. Sounded fishy,” said another.
Data from Australia’s consumer watchdog shows that 1232 reports of scams mentioning Facebook Marketplace were made to Scamwatch up until the end of November this year, with losses of $781,774.
That number is expected to be higher as not all individuals would report their experience to the website.
“This represents a 40 per cent increase in terms of reports and an increase of 28 per cent in terms of losses for scams on Facebook Marketplace between 2020 and 2021,” an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission spokeswoman said.
“In many instances with scams, it is difficult to recover funds as scammers are often located overseas.
“To be safe, we suggest that people use secure payment methods. If someone believes they have lost money to a scammer they should contact their bank or financial institution immediately.”
The Victorian cyclist who lost $625 reported the scam to Facebook at the beginning of the month but had not heard back.
Facebook told news.com.au it did not allow scams and took swift action to remove them as soon as they became aware.
“We work to get ahead of scammers and that includes making investments in our enforcement and putting in place real world consequences, including taking legal action,” Australian head of communications Antonia Sanda said.
The company removed 1.8 billion fake accounts across Facebook in the third quarter of this year.
Facebook’s tips for avoiding scams
Learn more about a page or profile: Spend a few minutes learning more about a page or profile by looking at its ‘about’ section, transparency information, and reviewing any ratings they may have received.
Learn more about the item you want to buy: Ask a lot of questions before buying an item you’re interested in. Make sure you are able to see pictures that show all angles of the item, and get information from the page or profile about an item’s authenticity.
Keep your personal information protected: Never share personal or banking information that could put your identity or money at risk. Use messenger when possible to communicate so you don’t have to give your personal phone number or email address.
Report a page or a post if you have any problems: If you have an issue with a person or an item that’s listed, such as scams violating community standards or harassing behaviour look for the report link to report to Facebook.
When clicking on links that take you to third party websites: Check that the website is legitimate and ensure any payments are being made securely.
What to do if you have been scammed
The ACCC recommends you take the following actions.
Contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible.
Contact the platform on which you were scammed, and inform them of the circumstances surrounding the scam.
Make a report on the Scamwatch website.
If you have experienced a loss online and believe the perpetrator is located within Australia you can report the scam to ReportCyber.
If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, it is important that you act quickly to reduce your risk of financial loss or other damages.
IDCARE is a free government-funded service which will work with you to develop a specific response plan to your situation and support you throughout the process. You can phone them on 1800 595 160 or visit their website.
If you have experienced fraud or theft contact your local police.
Tell your friends and family as it helps to share your experience. They can offer support and you can help protect them from scams.
Protect yourself from online scams
ACCC offers the following advice to protect yourself from online scams across the internet.
Know who you are buying from: If you are buying from a social networking site, check the seller’s history and read reviews from other people who have dealt with them.
Don’t be pressured by special offers or sales: Take your time and consider who you are dealing with.
Don’t trust the legitimacy of an ad just because it appears in a reputable newspaper or classifieds website – scammers post fake ads in these too.
Do an internet search: Use the exact wording in the ad, many well-known scams can be found this way.
Watch for unusual payment requests: At this stage payment via cryptocurrencies or other unusual payment methods is not the norm when shopping online.
If the seller is asking for unusual payment methods check reviews of the seller and only proceed if you feel comfortable to do so.
Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for upfront payment via bank transfer or electronic currency, like bitcoin. It is rare to recover money sent this way. Never send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you don’t know or trust.
When making online payments: Only pay for items using a secure payment service. Look for a URL starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol, or a payment provider such as PayPal.
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