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Zelle Scams on Facebook Marketplace: How To Recognize and Avoid Them

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Those who sell on Facebook Marketplace should be aware of a scam alert issued by the Better Business Bureau. The alert warns of Zelle scams on Facebook Marketplace in which a fraudulent buyer attempts to buy a big-ticket item using Zelle, the popular peer-to-peer payment app, to make payment. 

Zelle Scams on Facebook Marketplace

Some are referring to this scam as the Zelle business account scam. Here is how it works.

What Is Zelle?

The Zelle app allows users to send money between banks, typically in minutes. All that is needed to send money with the app is the receiver’s email address or phone number. Fraudsters are using a seller’s email address to set up this scam.

How Does the Zelle Business Account Scam Work?

The scam targets Marketplace sellers who’ve listed big-ticket items worth several hundred dollars.

A buyer contacts a seller requesting to buy the item and pay using Zelle. If the seller agrees, the buyer asks for the seller’s email address to send the payment. But the buyer does not send payment.

Instead, the buyer sends a fake email to the seller that appears to be from Zelle. The email alleges that the buyer paid using a Zelle business account and that the seller must also upgrade to a Zelle business account to receive payment — for a fee of a few hundred dollars.

A Better Way to Bank

The buyer then contacts the seller directly, claiming that they received the same email from Zelle and, to make things easy, sent the seller enough money to cover the purchase and the upgrade fee. Then they ask to be reimbursed by the seller for the upgrade fee. They provide fake screen captures and documentation as proof of payment to entice the seller to send the refund without first checking their account to verify receipt of payment.

The alert from the BBB specifically mentions Zelle scams on Facebook Marketplace, but a scammer could use most any peer-to-peer payment app, such as Venmo or Cash App.

Takeaway

Sellers should protect themselves from Zelle scams on Facebook Marketplace by watching for obvious red flags and verifying emails and payments. In this case, a seller can easily contact Zelle to verify whether the account upgrade request is real or not. Also, a seller should never refund a payment without verifying that it has actually posted to their account.

FAQ

Here are some quick answers to commonly asked questions about Zelle and Facebook Marketplace scams.
  • Are there Zelle scams on Facebook Marketplace?
    • Yes, the BBB has issued an alert regarding a Zelle scam on Facebook Marketplace.
  • Can I get scammed receiving money on Zelle?
    • If someone is enrolled in Zelle and receives money, the sender cannot cancel the transaction or get their money back unless the receiver sends it back to them.
  • How can you tell if someone is scamming on Facebook Marketplace?
    • The best way to avoid Facebook Marketplace scams is to stay away from any transaction that does not seem legitimate. If something seems suspicious, it likely is. Scammers rely on buyers and sellers not paying close enough attention to recognize their tactics.

Information is accurate as of Dec. 6, 2022.