KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville man thought he had found a deal on Facebook Marketplace while searching for a new vehicle, however, he didn’t know he was corresponding with a scammer.
Facebook Marketplace has recently become a go-to destination for people to buy and sell personal goods. More than a billion users buy and sell goods on the site each month, but they aren’t the only ones cashing in. The Federal Trade Commission reports Facebook Marketplace scams are on the rise. Many who fall for hoaxes believe it’s legitimate up to a certain point.
Al Moss believed he found a bargain when he saw a truck for sale on Facebook Marketplace.
“It’s a 2001 Toyota Tacoma for $800,” said Moss. “It seemed like a good bargain.”
Moss wanted to believe the rock bottom price because his car doesn’t run and he needed new wheels. The so-called seller, Wendy Robinson, sent a picture of herself, it’s a military ID that was likely stolen. With the photo came a convoluted story.
“According to the email she sent me, she’s with a military medical team, they’re about to leave the country,” said Moss.
Robinson told Moss, he’ll have the truck in a few days and she’s selling it because she doesn’t want to pay for a storage fee and insurance on it while she’s away.
“Her husband had died. She just wanted to get rid of the truck because she was going to be out of the country,” said Moss.
Moss told WATE that the seller had him arrange the deal with eBay motors.
“I figured eBay supposed to be a good company, might be legit. So I tried it, went through the process of purchasing the truck with the invoice. We kept responding through text messages. Once I sent the money it was a wrap,” said Moss.
Moss sent four prepaid cards, each worth $200. But the $800 was just the beginning.
“Because they wanted extra money, that’s what got me. Why should I have to send extra money for insurance if you already covered the insurance and shipping fees? Why should I have to pay extra money?” said Moss. “They wanted me to pay an extra thousand dollars.”
Throughout this, Moss thought he was actually corresponding with people from eBay and they were giving him this line about the truck, however, it doesn’t even really exist. Moss decided he wanted to cancel, then he was told about a cancellation fee.
“Yes, $200. I’m like why should I have to cancel something that I haven’t even gotten,” said Moss.
Here are some red flags to be aware of so you do not fall for a similar scam:
- eBay is never involved with transactions from other sites like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist
- You cannot meet the seller or look at the vehicle prior to sending a payment
- The vehicle is advertised well below what it is worth.
“I looked on Facebook last night. The truck is still there,” said Moss. “Looking for another buyer or sucker like me. It’s sad when people out there want to scam folks. My fault is when I saw the invoice from eBay, I didn’t actually go onto their actual website. What is the old saying? If it’s too good to be true, it usually is.”
Obviously, thousands of people have safely sold or bought their car or truck using sites like Marketplace, eBay or Craigslist, and thousands more will. Meta has taken steps to prevent scams. On Facebook Marketplace, it has created several protections for both buyers and sellers.
For starters, buyers can leave reviews for sellers using a five-star system based on their experience during the transaction. One other thing, if you asked to send the seller gift cards as a form of payment, you might want to think twice before sealing the deal.
Editor’s Note: Corrected the headline to say “loses” instead of “losses.”