Common OfferUp scams and how to avoid them

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Looking to buy or sell something on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace rival OfferUp, but worried about scammers? Here are some common methods used by scammers and a plan to avoid them.

What is OfferUp?

First, a quick history and application guide. It was founded in 2011 by Nick Huzar and Arean Van Veelen – then new dads who the company says were inspired to start OfferUp when they “found themselves with more things than they wanted and less things they wanted. they didn’t need it”.

The app allows users to quickly list items by taking a photo, setting a price, and offering a brief description. Potential buyers can scroll through a photo gallery, negotiate a price, and set up a sale in person or by shipping. Sellers can pay to promote their items to appear in the top 50 featured positions in search, browse, and category results.

Lurking in these lists are common scams that, armed with the right information, can be circumvented. Let’s go.

Fake accounts

The heart of any scam begins with the scammer. You can avoid bad situations by researching a seller’s history. It’s a good sign if they have multiple listings and good reviews. But beware of profiles without reviews, if the account contains duplicate information, blurry images of their products or if they want to communicate outside the app.

You should also keep an eye out for accounts with negative ratings and reviews. The reviews a person receives on OfferUp will display on their public profile. If you rate one to three stars, you will have the option to add negative reviews, such as ‘Item not as described’, ‘Rude’, ‘Problem with meeting location’, ‘Late’, No communicative” or “Other. ” If you choose four to five stars, you will be prompted to add positive reviews, including “Reliable”, “Punctual”, “Friendly” and “Communicative”. The compliment a person has received the most is listed first and all others will follow in descending order.

False cash or checks

You’ve landed a sale and now it’s time to collect payment. If you’re meeting in person – OfferUp prides itself on being a local marketplace – cash is the best bet. And even then, it’s possible that those net bills for that TV, that piece of furniture, or even a vehicle could be counterfeit.

Keep in mind that counterfeit detection pens are not always accurate. The best way to determine if a note is authentic is to rely on security features, such as watermark and security thread. The US Currency Education Program, run by the Federal Reserve, has a guide on the design and security features of US currency, which includes advice on simple ways to determine if a note is real.

Does not accept checks already. The scammers could simply provide a fake check, and when the NSF check bounces, you could not only be out of the article, but incur an NSF check fee from the bank.

In any case, before the meeting, be sure to confirm the agreed terms.

To work around these issues, keep your conversations in the app and don’t share your personal information, such as your phone number or email address.

Overpayment Scams

Use the OfferUp app for shipping transactions. Otherwise, you could be exposed to another check scam involving bad actors sending more than the agreed amount and demanding a refund of the overpayment. You could run out of large sums and also be penalized by the bank for the bounced check. Likewise, OfferUp notes that you should be wary of buyers asking you to use a different carrier or ship to a different address.

Google voice verification code scam

In this scheme, someone asks for your phone number so they can send you a Google Voice verification code, just to make sure you’re the real deal. Don’t. The request is probably a decoy for you to resend the code. If you do, the scammer can link a Google Voice number to your own phone. This gives the bad actor the opportunity to open new accounts and become a fake seller. This is an open door to scam new crop of victims.

Stay away from these predators by only using the app’s messaging system.

Additional shipping costs

Shipping charges are handled through the OfferUp app, so don’t fall prey to another common OfferUp scam where sellers insist an item has additional shipping charges. OfferUp lists its shipping costs and policies on its website. For example, shipping charges are calculated when an item goes on sale and are based on the item’s estimated weight and dimensions. This cost for the item will be displayed when it is published.

Fake websites

Some scammers create fake sites that look like OfferUp and will email links to the fake site, which will be loaded with fake advertisements. When you attempt to purchase an item, you will be prompted to sign in with your email address and password to make a purchase. A rule of thumb: stay on the authenticated OfferUp website or app and don’t click on any link from a user that asks you to sign in. Not only will you not get the item you thought you agreed to buy, but you’ll be out of the money you paid for it. The official OfferUp website offers purchase protection for purchases made and shipped through the app.

Fake sites can also place malware on your device.

Scams too good to be true

A seller offers the latest high-end iPhone for $50. Does that sound fishy to you? This is because it probably is. Scammers with these types of offers may ask buyers to transfer money before an item can be delivered. The scammer will then accept the money you paid and you will not receive the item you thought you purchased.

Pay outside the offerUp

If you’re not paying cash in person, stay in-app for shipping transactions. Offerup notes that sellers can request gift cards; a certified check; payment via Venmo, PayPal or Cash App; or a bank transfer via Western Union or MoneyGram. Some of these methods are untraceable, which makes it much harder to try to get your money back.

What to do if you’ve been scammed

If you’ve been scammed on OfferUp, here are some steps to follow:

  • Buyers can file a claim for any shipped purchase, but OfferUp encourages users to request a refund first before filing a claim. If you are lucky, it could mean that your problem will be solved faster.
  • You can anonymously report banned items or offensive or suspicious behavior by tapping the three dots in the upper right corner of the poster’s profile, then tapping the flag for Android users or “Report” for Android users. iOS users. Select a reason or block the person on the next screen. Press “Submit Report”.
  • Of course, you can also report criminal activity to the police. They will need details such as the user profile of the person you interacted with. OfferUp notes that once you have made your report, you must ask the investigator to contact OfferUp and provide a case number or event ID so the company can work with the agent.

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About the Author

carlCorry is a writer, educator, and longtime journalism advocacy volunteer. He is a member of the contributors wing of the Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame.

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