Let Me Say That Again

Deb Thurgood

I occasionally repeat a topic I’ve done before, usually with updated and expanded information – this is because we continue to get incidents where members of our community are being caught out by the same things.

Being duped when buying or selling items on Facebook is just one of these. Facebook Marketplace entered the social media space and quickly became a popular alternative to other methods such as TradeMe.

Where as TradeMe allows traders some recourse when things go wrong, Facebook Marketplace is not so kind.

We frequently receive complaints where people have purchased items via Facebook Marketplace and paid money over Internet banking, only for the goods to never turn up.

To add insult to injury the seller usually then blocks them, at the same time removing any contact history. From the other side, people have sold items and been shown screenshots of payments having been made, only to find the funds never actually went through, or were reversed after the item had been handed over. Again, the buyers can block the seller on Facebook which can make tracking the person down that much more difficult.

In many cases, the Facebook profile used to buy/sell the item is in itself fake and not a true representation of the offender themselves. (Fortunately even these fraudsters give over bank details for payment and Police have avenues to investigate the account holders and go from there.)

I am a huge believer in the prevention first approach however. My very strong advice to people is as follows. If you wish to buy or sell items over the Facebook Marketplace platform (especially expensive ones), insist on pick up and cash payment at the time.

As a buyer, this enables you to confirm firstly that the item exists in the real world and secondly that it is as advertised. From a seller’s perspective, this ensures that payment is received, cash in hand, before you give the item over.

The other difference between TradeMe and Facebook Marketplace is that TradeMe allows traders to see a seller’s feedback – good, bad and neutral. This helps to give you some idea of the trustworthiness of the person behind the profile.

With Facebook profiles being able to be faked so easily, this is not always possible. Indeed, sometimes our complainants have only realised they have been duped when they see a post highlighting a scammer’s behaviour on a local buy and sell group or similar.

When buying and selling on Facebook Marketplace, protect yourself. Screen shot the profile of the person you are dealing with. Screen shot all messages arranging the trade. Consider googling the profile name to see if there are any other posts on Facebook (or elsewhere) about the person that may highlight something dodgy is going on. And remember, pick up the item in person if at all possible.

Sometimes with all the best intentions, even the most cautious of people can fall prey to fraudsters. If this happens to you, please be sure to talk to your bank and report the matter to the Police, including all possible evidence, as quickly as possible.

Be safe from scams. Until next week, Deb.

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