Facebook Scams: A Warning or a Tutorial?

May 27, 2024

dinosaur30a_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dinobaby. Unlike some folks, no smart software improved my native ineptness.

This headline caught my attention: “Facebook Marketplace’s Dirty Dozen: The 15 Most Common Scams and How to Avoid Them.” I had hopes of learning about new, clever, wonderfully devious ways to commit fraud and other larcenous acts. Was I surprised? Here’s a list of the “15 most common scams.” I want to point out that there is scant (a nice way of saying “No back up data”) for the assertions. (I have a hunch that this “helpful” write up was assisted with some sort of software, possibly dumb software.) Let’s look at the list of the dozen’s 15 scams:

  1. Defective or counterfeit gadgets. Fix: Inspection required
  2. Bait-and-switch. Fix: Don’t engage in interaction
  3. Fake payment receipts. Fix: What? I don’t understand
  4. Mouth-watering giveaways. Fix: Ignore
  5. Overpayment by a buyer. Fix: What? I don’t understand
  6. Moving conversations out of Facebook. Fix: Don’t have them.
  7. Fake rental posting. Fix: Ignore
  8. Advance payment requests. Fix: Ignore
  9. Asking for confirmation codes. Fix: Ignore
  10. Asking for car deposits. Fix: Say, “No”
  11. Requesting unnecessary charges. Fix: Ignore
  12. Mailing items. Fix: Say, “No”
  13. Fake claims of lost packages. Fix: What?
  14. Counterfeit money. Fix: What?
  15. Clicking a link to fill out more information. Fix: Don’t

My concern with this list is that it does not protect the buyer. If anything, it provides a checklist of tactics for a would-be bad actor. The social engineering aspect of fraud is often more important than the tactic. In the “emotional” moment, a would-be buyer can fall for the most obvious scam; for example, trusting the seller because the request for a deposit seems reasonable or buying something else from the seller.


Trying to help? The customer or the scammer? You decide. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Good cartoon. In your wheelhouse, is it?

What does one do to avoid Facebook scams? Here’s the answer:

Fraudsters can exploit you on online marketplaces if you’re not careful; it is easy not to be aware of a scam if you’re not as familiar. You can learn to spot common Facebook Marketplace scams to ensure you have a safe shopping experience. Remember that scams can happen between buyers and sellers, so always be wary of the transaction practices before committing. Otherwise, consider other methods like ordering from Amazon or becoming a third-party vendor on a trusted platform.

Yep, Amazon. On the other hand you can avoid scams by becoming a “third-party vendor on a trusted platform.” Really?

The problem with this write up is that the information mixes up what sellers do with what buyers do. Stepping back, why is Facebook singled out for this mish mash of scams and tactics. After all, in a face-to-face deal who pays with counterfeit cash? It is the buyer. Who is the victim? It is the seller. Who rents an apartment without looking at it? Answer: Someone in Manhattan. In other cities, alternatives to Facebook exist, and they are not available via Amazon as far as I know.

Facebook and other online vendors have to step up their game. The idea that the platform does not have responsibility to vet buyers and sellers is not something I find acceptable. Facebook seems pleased with its current operation. Perhaps it is time for more directed action to [a] address Facebook’s policies and [b] bring more rigor to write ups which seem to provide ideas for scammers in my opinion.

Stephen E Arnold, May 27, 2024


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