Watch out for the fraudulent Zelle scam on Facebook Marketplace

I’ve heard all the horror stories of people getting scammed trying to buy products on the Facebook Marketplace. Now it happens to sellers. Some people using the Facebook Marketplace have fallen victim to the vicious Zelle scam while innocently trying to sell items on the site to earn some extra cash.

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

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How does this Facebook Marketplace scam work?

The Zelle scam that occurs on the Facebook Marketplace is specifically related to phishing emails pretending to be Zelle. Scammers aim to trick buyers on the site into responding to phishing emails impersonating Zelle.

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

Since Zelle’s popularity over the years for money transfer has grown rapidly, most people accept this agreement. However, the scammer will repeatedly ask if the seller received the payment once it was “sent”.

When the seller does not receive any notification from Zelle, the scammer will ask the seller to check their spam folder. Well, there is a fake Zelle email masquerading as a legitimate Zelle notification waiting in the seller’s spam folder only for them to open and get hacked.

Emails showed the CDC had “significant influence” on Facebook’s anti-virus policies, and worked to be “silent” about the availability of vaccines.

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

How can I prevent this from happening to me?

There are a few things you should always look out for to avoid falling for a social media scam:

  • Avoid accepting payments from services like Venmo, Zelle, and Cash App: While convenient, these services don’t have the same protections as services like Facebook Checkout and PayPal
  • If someone asks for personal information, it is a scam: Never give out your private information to someone you’ve never met online, whether it’s a phone number, address, banking information, etc.
  • Gift card payments are not accepted: If someone asks to pay for an item via Visa, American Express, or some other type of gift card, it is likely to be a scam
  • Do not pay money in advance: If someone online asks you to pay money up front to keep an item for them, it’s a scam
  • Always check the email address: If you’re getting a notification from a Zelle-like site, it shouldn’t have any kind of personal email address on it, like Gmail or Yahoo
  • Look for red flags: such as spelling and grammatical errors
  • Do not click any suspicious links: If you accidentally open an unsolicited email from one of these hackers, do not click any of the links in the email as it may compromise your private information. Protect yourself from accidentally clicking on malicious links by running an antivirus program on your device. See my expert review of the best antivirus protection for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS by searching for “Best Antivirus” on CyberGuy.com by heading over to my site at CyberGuy.com/LockUpYourTech

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

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

Additionally, be wary of deals that seem too good to be true and always research the seller thoroughly 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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