The Federal Trade Commission Issues warning about an Online Scam

Federal Trade Commission Warning: Scammers focused on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslst

August 14, 2022 at 4:55 p.m.
FTC.gov issues a warning about online scams.
FTC.gov issues a warning about online scams. (FTC.gov)

By E TODD FOWLER
Staff

Recently I decided to sell a few items on Facebook Marketplace. They were dining room tables that I haven’t used in quite a while. After setting the tables up and taking pictures of my products I posted the items online. Literally, in less than a minute I received messages asking me if the items were still available. I informed the inquirer that the item was available and I would be here for a few more hours and my payment method was cash. The next text was asking me if I would “use a six-digit verification code to prove I was real. 


Well, to say the least, I was skeptical when I received such a fast reply. Not only did I get one call, but I got three inquiries asking for the same process. The potential buyers asked me to verify with a six-digit number that they provide. Well….to make a long story short, I still have the items. 


Here is what the Federal Trade Commission is advising: 


From the FTC.gov


Selling stuff online? Here’s how to avoid a scam

By Alvaro Puig

July 27, 2022

Selling stuff online can be a great way to make some extra cash. Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and other sites attract a lot of buyers — and scammers. Here are some ways scammers try to cheat you and what to do about it.

Fake payments and bogus refund requests

A scammer posing as a buyer says they want to buy the thing you have for sale. When it comes time to pay, they insist on paying through a mobile payment app. They send you a fake payment notification and hope you send the item before you realize it’s a scam.

Or they say there was an issue with the payment they sent. For example, they might say they accidentally paid you twice and ask you to refund one of the payments.


Fake check overpayment

The scammer offers to give you a check for more than the selling price. They tell you to deposit the check and send the difference back to them.

The check is fake, but if you deposit it, it’ll appear in your account balance. That’s because banks must make your money available quickly, usually within two days.

When a bank says the check cleared, that doesn’t mean it was a good check. It can take weeks for the bank to figure out the check was fake. By that time, the scammer has the item you sold and the money you sent back. And the bank takes the money from the fake check out of your account.

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Fake verification codes A scammer posing as a buyer says they’ve heard about fake online listings and wants to verify that you’re a real person. They send you a text message with a Google Voice verification code and ask you for that code. If you give it to them, they’ll use it to create a Google Voice number linked to your phone number. Then the scammer could use the Google Voice number to rip off other people. If someone tracks the Google Voice number, it’ll be linked to your real phone number. That’s how the scammers conceal their identity.

Advice for selling things online

Many sites recommend selling your stuff to a local buyer you can meet in person and only accepting cash payments. If you’re not selling locally, see what seller protections the site offers.

To avoid a scam:

  • Don’t accept a mobile payment from someone you don’t know.

  • Never deposit a check for more than the selling price.

  • Don’t share your Google Voice verification code — or any verification code — with someone you don’t know.

Selling stuff online? To avoid a scam, don’t accept a mobile payment from someone you don’t know. Don’t deposit a check for more than your selling price. Don’t share any verification codes. Report scams at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.



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