PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Selling things on an online marketplace like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace is an easy way to make extra money and get rid of things you don’t need.
However, scammers are using a clever tactic to target sellers and set up phone numbers in their names.
Many people are currently doing a “summer cleanse,” going digital in addition to hosting sales and posting items for sale online. Kathy Whitaker has recently been using Facebook Marketplace to sell her old furniture.
“It was a big purge time and I posted about 60 items for sale on the marketplace in two days. And as soon as I started posting them, I was getting instant interest and I was like, ‘Wow, this is really great. The market is jumping,'” she said.
However, Whitaker soon received messages that he thought were suspicious.
“They ask for my phone number or ask me to text or call them. And I thought it was strange because we already had a connection in the marketplace. So I looked at his profile and it was created and there was no activity on it. I knew something was up,” she said.
As it turns out, Whitaker was onto something. Fraudsters want access to people’s phone numbers so they can hide their identity. Or, if a scammer gets your Google voice verification code and other information about you, they can open new accounts in your name, according to Rebecca Barr of the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Here’s how the scam works:
“They say they need to verify you because they might have been scammed before. So they ask you to send your phone number,” Barr said. “You get a verification code so they can verify your identity. So, assuming you’re innocent enough, they want to make sure they don’t get scammed.” .You don’t want to get scammed. So you go ahead and do it. But actually, it’s a scammer on the other end and they’re setting up a Google Voice account using your phone number.
A scammer used this trick on a woman in Portland.
“When they asked for my number I thought it was legit, again, a prestigious place,” Christine Fox said.
Next they asked to send the verification code they received. She thought it was strange, but it felt right.
“So I sent it to them, and as soon as I hit send, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I have to cancel this. I can’t cancel this,”’ Fox said. “The thing is, I’m excited. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I can offload this thing right away. I don’t have to wait and wait.’ So, slow down, I think it’s incredibly important.
Here’s how to avoid online marketing scams:
- Always protect your personal information
- Watch for red flags – like people pressuring you to make a fast transaction or offering a deal that’s too good to be true
- Understand the policies of the marketplace and stick to their guidelines – as most online marketplaces encourage you not to transact outside the platform.
“This scammer hits three of my items individually and says, ‘I’m interested in something I can pick up today.’ So they prey on your sense of urgency to get it out of your inventory,” Whitaker said. , which is unfortunate.”
The BBB says a lot of recent scam reports refer to Facebook Marketplace, but the same applies to other services.
As with scams related to cash apps, beware of phony buyers who “need” to upgrade your Zelle or another digital wallet app to receive cash from them.
Overpayment scams are also common, with scammers insisting that this is a mistake. Once you pay more, the buyer will ask for their extra money back. After you return their money, you may discover that the initial payment was incorrect. The check bounces or the buyer’s online payment is declined. You lose the money you “returned” along with the item you sold.
For more information on how to spot a scam, visit the BBB website.