The scammers are in plain site, but Facebook appears to be doing nothing to stop them

Today I posted a few items for sale on the Facebook Marketplace. A couple of kids bikes and similar things that the kids had grown out of. Instead of other options like eBay I posted them on my local Facebook community selling groups as they’re items that I really can’t be bothered to package up and post, so it just made more sense to sell them locally for collection. However, instead of local people, I was immediately approached by scammers. And Facebook is not interested in doing anything about these people!

Firstly, how does the scam work

The scam they’re trying on me is quite straight forward. It goes like this:

  1. The first thing you get is a question asking if the item you’ve posted is still available
  2. If it is, you’d probably reply in the affirmative
  3. They then write back to say they want it, but they are busy at work. Therefore, they’ll send a courier with cash to collect the item then next day (this is the point I block them)
  4. The next day they’ll start saying they’re having trouble paying the courier or getting the money to them, but they still definitely want the item
  5. Finally they say that they’ve been unable to get the money to the courier (for whatever reason), so if you can pay the courier directly for the collection, they’ll transfer the money for the item and courier directly to your account as soon as they can (which will invariably be after the collection)
  6. You pay the courier directly, the courier collects the item, your transfer never arrives

Alternatively, they transfer money to you from a hacked PayPal account and you pay the courier directly, or they send a friend for the collection and you have to pay them directly with cash. whatever happens, you’ve been scammed

But wait, isn’t Facebook is really proactive in removing these scammers?

Nope. Facebook don’t appear to be interested in investigating the scam accounts. The ‘review’ is simply done by their ‘technology’ as opposed to being done by a human.

Can’t I simply report the scammer and they’ll be removed?

Nope. There certainly is the option to report and block the scammer, however, Facebook doesn’t seem interested in removing or blocking the scammer. See the examples above – it’s perfectly apparent to anyone that this is a scam. All the messages I received are from active Facebook profiles. It should be like ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ for Facebook, but no, they don’t appear to be interested in either properly investigating, protecting individuals, or removing the scammer accounts.

So If Facebook won’t protect me, what can I do to protect myself from scammers?

Turns out not much. You can block the individual accounts, but we can assume that these individuals can quickly and easily just set up a new account. The only thing you can do, in my opinion, is protect yourself. Learn the scams, and err on the side of caution. If something seems a bit ‘dodgy’ then it probably is.