Selling items online can be a great way to make some extra cash. Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and other sites attract a lot of buyers — some of which are fake. Protect yourself by watching out for the following:
These payments involve the “buyer” sending you a payment notification hoping you’ll go ahead and send the item. You may find out the check you received was fake or the funds that were sent to you came out of someone else’s account that had been compromised, potentially leaving you liable for any funds you sent to the fraudster when you tried to “make it right”.
Bogus refund requests
This happens when the “buyer” pays for an item in advance and then wants a refund because they changed their mind. If they send funds and then want them back, it’s always best to question the validity of those funds. Was the transfer from stolen funds, was the check fake, or was the transfer from a compromised account? Rule out these possibilities before sending funds to the buyer.
Counterfeit check overpayments
This scenario is often a combination of the “buyer” sending a fake check for more than the selling price and asking you to send them back the difference. When their check doesn’t clear, you are out the entire check amount plus the amount sent back to them.
This involves the “buyer” saying their payment won’t go through because you need to upgrade your digital payments account. They direct you to send funds to a certain email address to upgrade. Once sent, you won’t be able to get those funds back.
Suspicious user profile
Take a peek at the buyer’s user profile – is it new? Are there a lot of pictures on it but all are dated the same day? Was it active years ago and then went dormant with no posts? These could be indications of either a new profile created to carry out the scam or a compromised profile where a fraudster was able to access someone’s profile they aren’t using anymore. The safest practice is to sell to a local buyer you can meet in a public space and only accept cash payments. If you’re not selling locally, see what seller protections the site you are using offers.
To avoid falling victim to fake buyers:
– Think twice before accepting mobile payments from strangers.
– Never deposit a check written for more than the selling price.
– Don’t accept payment until item pick-up.
You can report suspicious activities to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov, as well as your e-commerce site. In addition, most social media platforms have ways to report user profiles that were either taken over or created with the malicious intent of scamming people.