You’ve likely heard some horror stories about Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace. These marketplaces are similar to in-person flea markets because you can find a wide variety of different things. Except, instead of browsing through a table of goods, you are browsing through listings in an online marketplace.
Flea markets, whether in-person or online, can be good for certain types of items, such as vintage vinyl records and other collectibles. But flea markets are not good places to buy used tech. When it comes to buying used tech at a flea market, you are likely to end up running into something you want to avoid — scammers and fraudsters, which is why you need to find a marketplace that actively fights against fraud, such as Swappa.
Table of contents:
- Top 5 Facebook Marketplace scams
- How to avoid getting scammed on Facebook Marketplace
- Swappa is the safest marketplace for used tech
Scammers and fraudsters aren’t limited to Facebook Marketplace. They can be found just about everywhere online, but they tend to focus their efforts on websites and marketplaces that aren’t as vigilant in the fight against them. This is why it is important to know what to look for, and what to keep in mind. What follows are some of the most common scams that you’ll come across, and what you can do to avoid them.
A seller lists a defective or broken items
The scam: The seller lists a defective or broken item (and doesn’t make it clear the item isn’t fully functional).
The solution: If you are browsing an online marketplace, you should read the description carefully, and review the pictures carefully before you start communicating with the seller. More importantly, you should also fully test the item at the meetup location before you hand over your money.
A seller lists an item that is stolen or an item they do not actually have.
The scam: Sellers will list an item that is stolen. Sometimes sellers will also try to sell an item they do not have by sharing pictures they found online. There are also slightly different versions of this scam.
Alternate versions of this scam include a seller listing a phone that is financed with a carrier, or on a global blocklist. And, at times, a seller may try creating a listing that appears to be for a popular item, when they are actually selling a picture of the item or an empty box for the item.
The solution: Perhaps the best way to avoid buying stolen items is to stay away from deals that are too good to be true. Preventing this scam also comes down to reviewing the images and item descriptions very carefully. If you want to avoid this altogether, shop from a marketplace like Swappa that uses prevention methods such as pre-approval checks and verification images, which ensure the seller has the item they are selling. In addition, Swappa checks IMEI/ESN numbers before listings go live to make sure that phones can be activated and aren’t on a global blocklist.
The seller isn’t actually selling anything
The scam: This is similar in nature to the previous scam, where the seller lists an item they don’t actually have. But this one goes a step further because the seller isn’t just trying to get some money, they are trying to get personal information. These are known as phishing scams.
The solution: The best prevention method is shopping from a trusted marketplace. But more important is to make sure you never reveal personal information that isn’t absolutely necessary for the sale. It may seem like an innocent request for the seller to ask for some small detail, but small details can be pieced together and that can lead to further issues.
The seller “sells” an item to multiple people
The scam: Multiple people end up “buying” the same item. Online marketplaces do not always mark an item as sold when it is purchased. This can allow scammers to sell an item to multiple buyers.
The solution: The best prevention against this is to use a marketplace that marks an item as sold as soon as the first customer makes a payment, such as Swappa. Alternatively, if you are planning to buy something online and meet up with the seller to get the item in person — do not send your payment ahead of time.
A seller posts an item as a local sale and ends up not being in the area
The scam: Sellers will post an item for sale with the intent to sell it locally. But after you reach out, the seller will be unavailable for some reason, and instead, want you to pay online and have them ship the item.
The solution: The best prevention against this scam is to walk away from the transaction if the seller tries to change the terms during the sale. You should trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, there is a good chance that it isn’t right.
Now that we’ve highlighted a few of the most common types of Facebook Marketplace scams, you’ve most likely started wondering how you can avoid getting scammed. After all, it’s best practice to simply avoid being scammed altogether.
First and foremost — it is important to understand what items can and cannot be sold on Facebook Marketplace. Fortunately, Facebook makes this clear in their Commerce Policies. Unfortunately, scammers and fraudsters don’t always follow the rules, which is why Swappa has a dedicated support team that reviews listings and actively fights fraud.
Scammers and fraudsters are always adapting and changing techniques, and what follows are some tips that you should keep in mind.
- Always check the seller’s profile: This can be found in the “Seller Information” section of the marketplace listing. Facebook users can restrict certain profile items to friends only, so this isn’t a tell-all, but it is a great starting point. Even with the basic information, you can often see when the seller joined Facebook, how many friends they have, and where they live. You can also send the seller a message, and judge how they respond.
- Don’t give out sensitive personal information: You should never share personal information unless it is necessary. This means you shouldn’t be sharing personal details about yourself that aren’t needed for the sale. This includes details such as your home address, bank account info, credit card information, or other sensitive information such as a copy of an ID card or driver’s license.
- Meet in a public place: Always try to arrange a meeting in a public place. Ideally, a place that you trust and are familiar with, and have visited in the past. And, if the seller pushes otherwise, remember that it is ok to move on without finishing the purchase.
- Inspect the item: Make sure to check the item at the meetup location and make sure the item is what was advertised, which should be done before you hand over any money.
- Pay with a trusted payment method: Use cash, or use a payment option (PayPal, Venmo, Square, Apple Cash, etc) you know or have used before. Also, take note ahead of time and check the rules for the payment method you use. Some services provide purchase protection, and some may restrict certain purchases.
Perhaps the best way to avoid getting scammed is to stay far away from the “too good to be true” deals. If something sounds too good to be true, there is a good chance that it is a scam.
The bottom line is that you should always trust your instincts (and remember that it is better to miss a deal than it is to get scammed). Alternatively, you can also shop in a marketplace that hates scammers as much as you do.
At Swappa, we believe we offer the safest marketplace for used tech, which comes courtesy of the work our support and moderation teams perform, and our policies, which includes fraud prevention on multiple levels. What follows are some of the reasons why Swappa is the safest marketplace for used tech.
- Real 24/7/365 support: Swappa offers 24/7/365 support that is handled by real people. If you ever have a question or concern, help is just a support ticket away. And, with response times that are measured in minutes, you’ll never be left waiting too long.
- Listing reviews/verifications: Swappa’s moderation team reviews listings to ensure devices meet our strict listing criteria requirements, which include the device being fully functional. Our listing reviews make sure the seller has the actual device they are listing for sale, and that the seller does not have any outstanding issues on previous sales.
- IMEI checks: Part of the listing review process includes a check of the IMEI and Serial Number. Devices cannot be listed for sale on Swappa if they are on a global blacklist or they have an outstanding balance with a carrier.
- Sale monitoring: As part of Swappa’s fight against fraud — we not only check listings before they are approved but also monitor active sales to ensure no issues happen after a device has been purchased.
- Fraud checks: We seriously dislike fraud, fraudsters, and scammers. We wouldn’t want to deal with a scammer personally, and we don’t want Swappa users to deal with them either. Our fraud prevention includes manual checks before a listing is approved, sale monitoring after an item has been purchased, and reviews on payments and user accounts.
And, our fraud prevention doesn’t stop with manual checks from our staff, Swappa also has advanced AI-powered fraud prevention tools leveraging tens of thousands of data points to prevent issues before they occur.
On Swappa, you can buy and sell with confidence because you will not find a safer marketplace for used tech. And just in case you still have any doubt about Swappa — head over to Trustpilot and read the reviews being left by buyers and sellers.