You’ve heard all the horror stories of people getting scammed trying to buy products on Facebook Marketplace. Now it is happening to sellers. Some people who use Facebook Marketplace have fallen victim to a wicked Zelle scam while trying to innocently sell items on the site to make some extra cash.

A recent study from BeenVerified found that in the past year, scams on Facebook Marketplace have increased by 184%. If you think that’s bad, Zelle also had an increase in their scams by 86%.

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How this scam works on Facebook Marketplace

The Zelle imposter scam happening on Facebook Marketplace specifically is connected to phishing emails pretending to be Zelle. The scammers are aiming to trick buyers on the site into responding to these phishing emails impersonating Zelle.

They will start by reaching out to a seller and asking if they can pay for a product using Zelle. 

Since Zelle has grown in popularity over the years to transfer money fast, most people accept this agreement. However, the scammer will repeatedly ask if the seller has received the payment once they’ve “sent” it. 

When the seller doesn’t receive any Zelle notification, the scammer will ask the seller to check their spam folder. Lo and behold, there’s a fake Zelle email disguised as a legit Zelle notification waiting in the seller’s spam folder just for them to open it and get hacked.

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

How can I prevent this from happening to me?

There are a few things you should always be on the lookout for to avoid falling for a social media scam:

  • Avoid accepting payments from services like Venmo, Zelle and Cash App: although they are convenient, these services just don’t have the same protections that services like Facebook Checkout and PayPal do
  • If someone is asking for personal information, it’s a scam: don’t ever give out your private information to someone you’ve never met online, whether it’s a phone number, address, banking information, etc.
  • Do not accept gift card payment: if someone is asking to pay for an item via a Visa, American Express or any other kind of gift card, it’s likely a scam
  • Do not pay money in advance: if someone online is asking you to pay money in advance to hold an item for them, it’s a scam
  • Always check the email address: if you’re receiving a notification from a site that looks like Zelle, it should not have any kind of personal email address attached to it, like Gmail or Yahoo
  • Look for red flags: such as spelling and grammar mistakes
  • Don’t click any suspicious links: if you do accidentally open a spam email from one of these hackers, do not click on any of the links within the email as it could hack into your private information. Protect yourself from accidentally clicking malicious links by running antivirus software on your device. See my expert review of the best antivirus protection for your Windows, Mac, Android & iOS devices by searching ‘Best Antivirus’ at CyberGuy.com by heading to my site at CyberGuy.com/LockUpYourTech

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Here's how to avoid being scammed by a Zelle impostor.

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

Additionally, be wary of deals that seem too good to be true and always thoroughly research the seller before making a purchase.

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

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