My Facebook profile ought to put scammers off – if you look closely it clearly says I’m a journalist at Express.co.uk and I run a personal finance blog called Broke in Bristol (& beyond). But scammers will go to the ends of the earth to try and scam people out of their hard earned cash, no matter who they are.
I’ve been selling things on the internet for years because it’s a great way to make extra money and as someone who writes about personal finance I like to practise what I preach.
Last year I put my campervan and an iPhone 11 up for sale on eBay and Facebook Marketplace which is when I witnessed first hand the scale of the scamdemic in the UK.
Within the space of a few days, more than ten people tried to scam me for the phone – and four people attempted to scam me over the campervan.
Initially, I’ll admit I was a little amused as I thought to myself “you’re trying to scam the wrong person here”.
But amusement soon turned to annoyance and eventually fear of what some of these people might stoop to, in order to get their hands on goods that are worth hundreds or thousands of pounds.
At one point scammers were offering to send a courier to my doorstep to pick up the keys to my campervan – that’s when the reality that I could be in danger hit home.
I eventually sold both items successfully through eBay and Facebook Marketplace, but I’d like to make sure others know about the PayPal scam.
This is the message I received about my campervan: “Brilliant, I believe it’s still in a very good condition? Also like to know if you haven’t had an accident with it before? I hope you have got PayPal? Because I will be making payment with PayPal cos it’s the safest and best way to make online payment if you know what I mean by saying so?
“If that’s fine with you kindly send me your PayPal email address that’s all I will be needing to make the payment, will make the payment as soon as I get your details, more so I have got a private courier agent that will come for pick up once payment has been made, Get back to me as soon as you can. Thanks.”
Fraudsters are hoping that you will not check your PayPal account for the funds but will instead just accept the email confirmation, think you’ve been paid and send the item or hand it over to a courier.
Scammers can easily fake an official-looking email, using the same logo and design as the real company.
Often your guard is down when you receive an email from a company you’ve dealt with before, such as PayPal but always log into your account to double check.
Whereas in the past, these emails were easy to spot because of spelling mistakes and errors, they are now much more sophisticated.
Although Facebook and eBay claim they are doing their best to stamp out scams, more needs to be done – fast.
While I was playing along for the purpose of my story, experts say it’s best to cut contact and report anything suspicious to Facebook straight away.
The real Tim had no idea his identity had been stolen and contacted everyone to make them aware his Facebook profile had been cloned after we spoke on the phone.
When I finally reveal in a message I’m a reporter for the Daily Express, he doesn’t respond although the blue tick clearly shows he has read the message.
I reported ‘Tim’ to Facebook on Monday, six days later and the profile still hadn’t been removed.
Express.co.uk contacted Facebook who said: “We’ve invested heavily in strengthening our technology to keep scammers off Facebook and remove these accounts when we discover them.
“We recently introduced safety notices that are helping 100 million people per month spot and avoid potentially harmful interactions like scams. There are also a number of tools for people to control who they chat with like message requests, blocking and reporting.
“We encourage people to not accept suspicious requests and to report suspicious messages to us right away so we can take action. We have also donated £3 million to Citizens Advice to deliver a UK Scam Action Programme to both raise awareness of online scams and help victims.”
An eBay spokesperson said: “Huge numbers of eBay users buy and sell vehicles safely and successfully every day.
The spokesperson continued: “Anyone suspecting they are encountering a problem seller or buyer should contact eBay, Action Fraud and their local police force immediately.
“We have a lot of advice available for buying and selling vehicles on eBay, including important safety points such as making sure that the funds are in your account before handing over the keys to the vehicle.
“We also have teams dedicated to fraud prevention and law enforcement liaison, who will investigate reported sellers or buyers and provide evidence to police as requested.”
Express.co.uk also contacted PayPal asking for comment.
Do you have a scam story to share? Express.co.uk would like to hear from anyone who has been scammed. People can get in touch via [email protected]