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February 9, 2023

You’ve heard all the horror stories of people getting scammed trying to buy products on Facebook Marketplace. Now it’s happening to sellers. Some people using Facebook Marketplace have fallen victim to the nefarious Zelle scam while innocently trying to sell items on the site for extra cash.

A recent study from Verified found that scams on Facebook Marketplace have increased by 184% in the past year. If you thought that was bad, Zelle also saw an 86% increase in scams.

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How this scam works on Facebook Marketplace

The Zelle imposter scam that occurred on Facebook Marketplace was specifically related to phishing emails impersonating Zelle. The purpose of the scammers is to trick buyers on the site into responding to these phishing emails impersonating Zelle.

They first contact the seller and ask if they can use Zelle to pay for the product.

Since Zelle has grown in popularity over the years for quick money transfers, most people have embraced the deal. However, the scammers will repeatedly ask the seller if they received the payment after the seller has “sent” the payment.

When sellers do not receive any Zelle notifications, scammers ask sellers to check their spam folders. Lo and behold, there’s a fake Zelle email masquerading as a legitimate Zelle notification sitting in a seller’s spam folder waiting for them to open it and get hacked.

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Scammers are looking for victims on Facebook Marketplace.
(Fox News, Archives)

How can I prevent this from happening to me?

To avoid falling for social media scams, you should always be aware of the following:

  • Avoid accepting payments from services like Venmo, Zelle, and Cash App: As convenient as they are, these services don’t have the same protections as services like Facebook Checkout and PayPal
  • If someone asks for personal information, it’s a scam: Never give out your private information to people you have never met online, whether it is phone numbers, addresses, bank details, etc.
  • Gift cards are not accepted for payment: If someone is asking to pay for an item via Visa, Amex, or any other type of gift card, it is most likely a scam
  • Do not pay in advance: If someone online asks you to pay upfront to keep an item for them, it’s a scam
  • Always check email addresses: If you get notifications from a site that looks like Zelle, it shouldn’t have any kind of personal email address attached to it, like Gmail or Yahoo
  • Look for red flags: such as spelling and grammar errors
  • Do not click on any suspicious links: If you do accidentally open a spam email from one of these hackers, please do not click on any links in the email, as it may compromise your private information. Prevent accidental clicks on malicious links by running antivirus software on your device. Check out my expert reviews of the best antivirus protection for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices by going to my website CyberGuy.com/LockUpYourTech Search CyberGuy.com for “best antivirus”

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Here's how to avoid being scammed by Zelle impostors.

Here’s how to avoid being scammed by Zelle impostors.
(CreditThiago Prudencio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images, File)

Also, be wary of deals that are too good to be true, and always research the seller thoroughly before buying.

Have you or someone you know ever been scammed using Facebook Marketplace? Tell us what happened. We’d love to hear from you.

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