Online Marketplace Scams

Our research shows that over a quarter of Aussies were the target of a scam as a seller on a marketplace. So how can Securely help?

Online marketplace scams involve scammers pretending to be a legitimate contact with fake websites, ads, or profiles.

These scams occur on common e-commerce platforms used by genuine people, such as eBay, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and Carsales. 

Learn how we can help.

What Is A Online Marketplace Scam?

For Sellers

If you are advertising your items for sale through print and online marketplaces, beware of scammers posing as genuine buyers. The scammer will contact you, make you an offer—often quite generous—then complete payment through credit card or cheque. They will be for an amount that is greater than the agreed price. 

The scammer will contact you with an apology for the overpayment, offering a fake excuse. The scammer might tell you that the extra money was included to cover additional shipping costs. Or they may just say they made a mistake.

The scammer will then ask you to refund the excess amount – usually through an online banking transfer, pre-loaded money card, or a wire transfer – before you discover their cheque has bounced or the credit card had been stolen or is a fake card.

A newer variation on this scam involves the scammer pretending to have made a payment for a more significant than agreed amount through services such as PayPal by sending a fake receipt of payment. The scammer will claim that the money is being held until you forward on the extra money.

If you send any money, you will not get it back. If you have already sent the ‘sold’ item, you will also lose this. At the very least, the scammer will have wasted your time and prevented you from accepting legitimate offers on your sale.

For Buyers

Scammers will pose as genuine sellers, post fake ads on marketplace sites, and may approach you through email or social media.

The ad can be for anything, such as fashion, pets, used cars, boats, bikes, caravans and horses. It may even include pictures and other details – often copied from a genuine seller’s ad. To lure several victims in a hurry, the scammer advertises the item at a low price, often much lower than comparable items advertised on the same site.

When you show interest in the item, the scammer may claim that they are travelling or have moved overseas and that an agent will deliver the goods following receipt of payment. Following payment, you may receive a fake email receipt claiming to be from the website’s secure payment provider. However, you won’t receive the goods and cannot contact the seller.

How to spot an online Marketplace scam.

As a Seller

Learn how to spot red flags when selling an item online.

They overpay and don't negotiate

Scammers are willing to buy the item at the price or pay even more. Or overpay you and claim you have to refund them. You are asked to refund or forward on the overpaid amount to a specific bank account or through a wire transfer. Often this is to pay for transport or importation fees.

Use Fake Credit cards or bank deposits

Scammers email you falsified or altered receipts or money transfer confirmations, claiming to be from companies such as PayPal, eBay or your bank. They use fake credit card and bank cheques. They insist on using PayPal – they can reverse the money once you send the item.

Limited Profile information

Their profile has no photos and minimal information. They use poor spelling and grammar.

They Disappear when suggesting Securely

They disappear when you suggest paying through Sell Securely. "Both parties can feel secure knowing the other is who they say they are because legally validates identity and tracks the transaction. Neither party will need to share their financial information with the other, so buying and selling online is safe and scam free. Transactions are also immediate, so sellers don't have to wait days for the money to arrive in their bank accounts." Mr Neely cofounder of Securely said.

How to spot an online Marketplace scam.

As a buyer

Learn how to spot red flags when buying an item online.

The price is to good to be true

If the advertised price of a good, or service looks too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers place ads for a very low price for an expensive item.

They want to chat with you on email or Whatsapp

Scammers try to get you off Facebook Messenger to another chat service to keep anonymity like email or WhatsApp.

Urgency and no inspection

Scammers will create a sense of urgency for the item and will never allow a personal inspection – even if they look like they are in the same city.

Require payment via gift card or bitcoin

Scammers ask for payment via gift card or bitcoin. They’ll also be against receiving cash and meeting with you in person. Scammers commonly ask for payment methods like pre-loaded gift cards, bank or international funds transfers, and cryptocurrency, making it harder to recover funds.

So, what can you do?

Follow these steps to keep your identity and money safe.

Do Your Research

Do your research on their profile. Is their profile new, is there a lack of information, or do they have lots of spelling and grammar mistakes? Scammers often make new profiles and use different languages in their feeds.

Continue to Communicate on Marketplace.

Continue to communicate on Marketplace. Australia’s consumer watchdog says the key to avoiding scams is to keep communication and transactions within a secure platform.

Use Securely

Securely is a secure payment platform. Buyers can submit payment to Securely which is held in Escrow. We protect both the buyer and the seller equally by using Escrow, thereby eliminating any risk of conducting transactions with unknown parties. Escrow is the legal agreement whereby money is held by a third party on behalf of two other parties that are in the process of completing a transaction.

Don't feel pressured to do anything

Never send money or give credit card details, online account details, or copies of important personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust - hang up or delete the email or message. Don't feel pressured to do anything.

been scammed. Here's What to do:

If you have recently lost money or given out your personal information to a scammer, there are steps you can take straight away to help protect you from any further losses. 

Contact your bank or financial Institution

You should contact your financial institution immediately if you’ve sent money or shared your bank account details with a scammer. They may be able to stop the transaction and/or close your account.

Contact IDCare

Get in touch with IDCare, - Australia and New Zealand's counselling and support service to assist Australians impacted by scams, identity theft and cyber-crimes. IDCare is a free, not-for-profit service for all Australians.

Report the scam to authorities

It’s best to report your scam to the Australian Cyber Security Centre. Reports may be referred to the police for possible investigation.

Seek Support

It can be very stressful and emotionally draining, so please seek help. You can talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust. Contact IDCARE on 1800 595 160. IDCARE is a free, government-funded service that supports victims of identity crime.

Start Sending Your Money Safely.

Securely is here to help Aussies avoid scams by transferring money safely when buying privately. Can be used with Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and more!