Facebook Marketplace has gained popularity in recent years, with over a billion users trading goods each month. However, scammers also flood in. According to the FTC’s report, 90% of online shopping scams happened on Facebook and Instagram in 2021. If you run into Facebook Marketplace scams unluckily and want to find out how to track down the scammer, here is a post offering some hints.
Besides, if you feel your potential buyer’s or seller’s identity is suspicious, you can also make full use of these methods before making a financial decision.
What are Facebook Marketplace scams?
While Facebook users enjoy the convenience of talking to a buyer or seller directly, they may also find themselves at risk.
Buyers may get faulty or poor-conditioned items after they give money to a Facebook Marketplace scammer. Or the seller requires a deposit or prepayment from you before shipping and then flees away1.
Some also reported that they get scammed by phony house rentals, leading to deposit loss and personal information leakage. Fake ads and too-good-to-be-true offers are also rampant on Facebook Marketplace. Many users noticed a large number of fake ads on the Marketplace in April 20232. Last but not least, pay attention to anyone who asks to communicate outside of Facebook Marketplace with you.
Nevertheless, sellers are also prone to scams. They may be asked to ship before others pay. A more sophisticated scam may involve a prepaid shipping label so that the buyer can change the delivery address after you ship the item out. They can claim no item received and request a refund while you don’t have any proof without a tracking number.
Worse, scammers may use stolen credit cards for payment, which will get reversed once it’s reported. Or they may send extra money to you and ask for a full refund, which may get you into some sort of money laundering.
Furthermore, so-called account upgrades trick you into refunding the money before you receive any. “Try to pay me by PayID then saying I needed to upgrade to business account and they would pay me another 500 and I would need to pay them back the 500 first3,” shared by a user on the whirlpool forum.
How to track down a Facebook Marketplace scammer?
When you’re scammed on Facebook Marketplace, you may realize that you get very limited information about the scammer, or worse, only the Facebook username. Is it still possible to track down the scammer? Definitely yes.
Track down a scammer with
Method 1 Uncover scammer information with username
A Facebook account is a must to sell or buy stuff on Facebook Marketplace. Therefore, you can always check the scammer’s Facebook profile and run a reverse username lookup to search for more information.
BeenVerified is one of the best people search engines that boasts a 7-in-one search tool. Founded in 2007, it collects tons of data from the Internet which connects a username to other info such as name, phone, address, education and more. It helps arm people against catfishing, online fraud, and other common scams by performing a username search.
Just fill in the scammer’s username and click Search Now in the below search box. Since BeenVerified runs a username lookup on 55+ social networks, you can try to search for a username from Facebook, Venmo, and other social platforms.
Wait for a detailed report to be generated for you. It will list all potential owners of the username in the report, and you can click Search person to further reveal this person’s other details.
The compiled report may contain the possible username owner’s address history, contact info, possible relatives, other social accounts, job history, criminal records, and others when available.
However, if you don’t want to pay, you can just cross-search the username on other popular social networks like Snapchat or Twitter. People tend to use the same or similar username on social media and you can take advantage of it.
Use some tricks to accelerate your searches. For instance, search until:2022-01-01 from:@CNN on Twitter, and you’ll get the tweets and replies CNN sent before January 1st, 2022.
Note that it may be time-consuming and exhausting.
Method 2 Track Facebook scammer with phone number
Got the scammer’s phone number and don’t know what to do? Try a reverse phone number search to get a report as detailed as background checks do.
Keeping your search confidential, legit and quick, PeopleFinder works as an industry leader for years helping people perform a people search. You can easily find out who is behind the phone number with its updated source, advanced algorithm, and lightning-fast response. Similarly, you can obtain a report listing the phone number owner’s name, location history, contact info, assets, criminal and traffic records, social accounts, and more.
- Visit PeopleFinder website. Fill in the phone number and click Search Now.
- Your report will be ready in minutes. You’ll be asked to purchase a membership plan before reviewing. Check the info contained in the report to see if it helps.
Still, you can just search the number on powerful search engines like Google or Bing if you prefer a free method. If someone has reported the number on scamming sites or shared it online, you can grab more details before making any decision.
Method 3 Find Facebook Marketplace scammer with email
If you pay off the scammer through PayPal, you may have his/her email address, which can be used to run a reverse email lookup.
PeopleLooker spares no effort in linking an email address to the person behind it. Its email search tool combs through billions of public records so that it can render a helpful and significant report to users. It has a great reputation for revealing info about a buyer or seller, finding old classmates, spotting scammers, and so on.
- Go to the PeopleLooker email search page.
- Enter an email address and click Search.
- The search tool will produce a report for you. You may find the scammer’s personal information, working history, background, photos and other valuable details on the report.
In addition, since some social networks try to enhance engagement by asking users to leave an email address on their profile, you can search the email on top platforms. Twitter or LinkedIn will be a good place to start. Besides, head to scammer list sites like Nembutal scams, IATA, or other similar websites to view a list of scammer emails.
Method 4 Verify the scammer with pictures
Thinking the person on the other side is selling fake items or even posting phony rental info? Wondering if the photo on the post is true to the item or stolen from somewhere else? All these can be answered with Social Catfish.
With an image uploaded to Social Catfish, you’ll find out if the picture has been posted on other social media and who posted it. Therefore, you can verify whether the seller is a scammer or not.
Also, use Google image search as your backup option.
What to do if you’re scammed on Facebook Marketplace?
- Report it to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).
- Check Facebook Purchase Protection policy to see if you can request a refund.
- Follow the instruction to report a person on Facebook Marketplace (which may get the scammer’s Facebook account blocked).
- Contact the bank or transfer app if you were using any to transfer your money. If you quickly report the problem, you may be as lucky as PayPal user @natethegreat3 who got his money back4.
- Protect yourself from identity theft and fraud. Get a free scan to see if your personal information is exposed on the Dark Web.
Hope you find this post helpful if you’re facing Facebook Marketplace scams. If you have any other tricks or thoughts, please don’t hesitate to share them with us.
- Tips/Tricks & Trolls [jarablue]. (2023, February 24). I just got scammed off Facebook Marketplace [Online forum post]. HardForum. https://hardforum.com/threads/i-just-got-scammed-off-facebook-marketplace.2025957/ ↩︎
- Off Topic [Glenn McBride]. (2023, April 10). Facebook Marketplace Scams [Online forum post]. Canadian Woodworking. https://forum.canadianwoodworking.com/forum/off-topic/off-topic-aa/1387292-facebook-marketplace-scams ↩︎
- Shopping [Desmondp]. (2023, February 20). Facebook Marketplace Scammers [Online forum post]. Whirlpool. https://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/3m01q82r ↩︎
- Security and Fraud [natethegreat3]. (2023, June 10). Am I being scammed by a seller on Facebook Marketplace? [Online forum post]. PayPal. https://www.paypal-community.com/t5/Security-and-Fraud/Am-I-being-scammed-by-a-seller-on-Facebook-Marketplace/td-p/3070607 ↩︎