Police urge vigilance as marketplace scams rise

The Hertfordshire Constabulary have issued a warning to buyers and sellers following a rise in the number of reported incidents of marketplace scams.

The warning details reports where products for sale are being targeted by fraudsters. Sellers are advertising items for sale on Facebook marketplace or Gumtree and the scammers contact the victim, arrange to buy the item however, when they arrive, they show the seller a fake screenshot showing that their bank has transferred the money and that it is ‘pending’.

The most at risk items seem to be those with a high price tag or electronics like mobile phones and laptops.

We would urge people to be vigilant to this type of crime. Where possible, request alternative methods of payment or make sure that the funds have fully cleared in your bank before handing the items over.

Do not let the ‘buyer’ into your home, and if you are concerned or feel threatened, please phone the police.

– Sergeant Karen Mellor, Herfordshire constabulary’s Crime Reduction and Community Safety team

Below the Police force has listed some tips for buyers sellers to follow when using certain online marketplaces.

Top tips for avoiding marketplace scams:

If anything doesn’t feel right about the transaction, cancel it

  • Always check your account or third-party payment facility to ensure a payment has been cleared before handing over or posting items
  • Always log in to payment providers directly on your device to verify you have received the payment.
  • Do not use links or websites supplied by the buyer to check for payment, as these can also be forged and look genuine.
  • If a buyer becomes pushy, aggressive or makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to block them and report them to the platform provider
  • Minimise the personal information you share in the advert such as your address, email, or phone number
  • If you’re meeting to exchange items, ensure your safety, take a friend or relative, and arrange to meet in a busy public place with CCTV – check the location on Goggle Earth if the buyer suggests it to check it is not isolated or unsuitable looking.
  • Take images or videos so that the buyer and items can be identified if there is suspicion of theft. If you are selling a high value item, make sure you make a note of all the necessary information required to identify it as yours before you sell it on.
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