Inside the elaborate scams plaguing Facebook groups and Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace has recently become a go-to destination for people to buy and sell personal goods. An attractive option because Facebook doesn't charge any sort of fee for listing on the service.
16 March 2023
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Facebook Marketplace users have warned of scammers targeting the platform. 

More than a billion users buy and sell goods on Facebook Marketplace each month—but they aren’t the only ones cashing in. Facebook Marketplace scams are on the rise: 9 out of 10 online shopping scam victims say they were scammed through Facebook or Instagram in 2021, according to the US Federal Trade Commission’s latest report.

Adam Donovan works at an IT shop in Noosa, He told the ABC he was not expecting to be targeted by six scammers within a few hours as he tried to sell an old couch on Facebook Marketplace. 

“When they get access to your email, they’ll send you fake things, they'll send you a virus or … they’ll send a PDF that’s not a PDF, so then you’ll download it and it’ll plant some nasty bugs in your computer that’ll give them access to it,” he said.

Mr Donovan said he had also seen scammers try to convince people that they had transferred too much money, and requested they transfer the difference back. 

Michael Grinceri has been an admin for Facebook rental group, Sunshine Coast rooms for rent, since August 2022. He said Facebook was “not even remotely close” to doing enough to crack down on scammers. “We just ban people as there’s no way of actually reporting them as a scammer,” he said.

University of the Sunshine Coast cybersecurity lecturer Dennis Desmond said it was unlikely that Facebook would change unless forced.

“That’s where they make their money; through advertising, and increased revenue through bringing on more and more subscribers,” Dr Desmond said.

He said it was concerning how quickly scammers were evolving, while legislation lagged. Not only are [scammers] students of human behaviour, but they’re also up to date on the technologies that are being rolled out, such as ChatGPT, and AI tools.” he said 

“They’re very, very poor at protecting your financial security and integrity. “And quite honestly, as such a massive organisation without legislation, policy and control, they’re going to continue to do business as they have in the past,” Dr Desmond said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Meta said the company was committed to safeguarding the integrity of its services.

- CyberBeat


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