Action Fraud - the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime - has received reports from victims who have tried to purchase items and never received them.
Facebook’s Marketplace allows users to buy and sell items with people in their community for free by simply tapping on the shop icon at the bottom of the Facebook app.
However, unlike rival websites such as eBay there is no secure payment facility such as PayPal or feedback systems in place, which means it is up to buyers and sellers to agree on prices and payment methods.
Action Fraud is advising Marketplace users to exercise caution as it is easy for fraudsters to post pictures of items for sale that either do not exist or are counterfeit.
In all the cases reported to Action Fraud, fraudsters have been offering items for sale and demanding that payment is made via bank transfer. When victims ask if payment can be made through PayPal, a variety of excuses are given as to why they cannot.
Victims have reported transferring money directly into fraudster’s bank account for gaming consoles, iPhone’s, iPad’s, trainers and even rare Pokemon trading cards.
Items never received
In one report a buyer tried to purchase an iPad Air listed for sale and after agreeing a price with the seller decided to go ahead with the purchase.
When the buyer asked to meet the seller in person they were given an excuse as to why they couldn’t meet. The seller then suggested if the item could be sent by recorded delivery with payment by bank transfer instead of cash.
The buyer then transferred £105 to the fraudster’s bank account. The victim never received the iPad and the fraudster blocked their messages.
Action Fraud’s tips on protecting yourself online
If someone’s message or profile looks suspicious, trust your instincts and walk away.
Never transfer money directly into a sellers account without viewing the item in person first.
When purchasing smaller items, do the exchange in a public place such a local police station.
Use an online payment option such as PayPal, which helps to protect you.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.