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OfferUp Scams And How to Avoid Them

OfferUp is a convenient way to purchase local items online. However, like any online marketplace, bad actors will attempt to scam unsuspecting buyers. In this article, we’ll examine how to avoid the many perils of buying through OfferUp (and other online marketplaces).

OfferUp is a mobile-driven local marketplace similar to eBay, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.

The app offers advantages, like most buyers being near you and the company’s collaboration with local law enforcement to establish safe “Community Meet Up” spots where transactions can take place.

However, as with any online marketplace, the bad actors of the world will attempt to scam unwitting buyers out of their items or their hard-earned cash.

In this article, I tell you about the types of scams you could face on OfferUp, as well as the best ways to avoid being scammed.

Types of Offerup Scams You Might Encounter

There are numerous scams that the bad guys will use to try to separate you from your hard-earned cash or items.

When You’re the Buyer

Fake OfferUp Websites

Scammers will create a fake website that looks like the actual OfferUp website. The bad actor will then email links to the fake site or will advertise on other websites, social networks and other online locations.

Once you (the victim) click on the link to visit the website, the fake website will install malware on your device. In addition to the malware, the fake OfferUp website will offer fake items on the site to entice you into attempting to purchase these items.

When you attempt to buy the item, you’ll arrive at an online payment form, where there are (supposed) options to pay using a wire transfer, gift card or electronic check. You may also be asked for credit card information.

This allows the scammers to drain your bank account, make fraudulent charges on your credit or debit card, or steal your identity.

“In A Hurry to Sell” Scam

The bad actor will pretend to be in a hurry to sell an item.

The scammer will come up with a reason they must sell the item in a hurry, and they’ll tell you that you’ll need to pay for rushed shipping. To make up for the extra shipping charge, they’ll give you the item at a rock-bottom price.

Once you send the requested amount, the scammer will block you on the app and never send the item that you supposedly purchased.

Multiple Postings Scam

A scammer creates several seller accounts on OfferUp, posting the same listing on each account. In each account, the same email address is listed as the contact method.

The scammer then says in the listing to email them about the listed item instead of clicking the Buy button. 

The scammer will then ask you, the buyer, to pay via wire transfer, a gift card, or some other method of payment that makes it tough for buyers to get their money back. This allows the bad actor to sell the same item multiple times, while never delivering even one item.

Used Vehicle Scams

Be on the lookout for used vehicle scams.

The vehicles are listed quite a bit below market value and are being sold using a fake VPN number and/or a fake title.

In some cases, buyers have found GPS trackers hidden in the vehicle, as the seller intended to track the vehicle to the buyer’s location and steal the vehicle in order to sell it again.

You can anonymously report insurance fraud or vehicle theft by calling toll-free at 800-TEL-NICB (800-835-6422), texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411), or by submitting a form on the NICB website.

When You’re the Seller

Code Verification & Bad Check Scam

An OfferUp scammer will pose as a buyer for an item that you’re selling and will attempt to get your (the seller’s) phone number.

The bad guy will then come up with an excuse to text you, perhaps claiming they need to send a code to verify that you are a real person. They will then send back a malicious link designed to steal your OfferUp login and password, or other information.

The scammer will then send you a bad check instead of paying through the app. The check is usually for an amount larger than the amount of the sale. They will then ask you to simply refund the overpayment in cash.

Later on, when the bad check bounces, you’re not only out the “overpayment” and the item you had up for sale, but may also have to pay a bad check fee to your own bank.

Counterfeit Money Scam

This scam is a bit tough to foil unless you’re an expert at detecting counterfeit bills.

The buyer (i.e., scammer) will agree to your price, so you set up a time and place to meet to make the transaction. When the scammer shows up, they pay for your item in crisp, new (but unfortunately counterfeit) bills.

You don’t find out the bills are counterfeit until you try to buy something using the bills or when you deposit the bills in the bank. You are then out both the item and the cash.

How to Avoid OfferUp Scams

Just as there are numerous ways you can encounter scams on OfferUp, there are also a number of ways to help you avoid being a victim of those scams.

Avoid Communicating Outside of the OfferUp App

Never communicate with a buyer or seller outside of the app. 

OfferUp provides a messaging system inside of its app. It does this to keep buyers and sellers safe and secure.

By using the app’s messaging system, you’ll never expose your email address or phone number, which can lead to many common scams.

Don’t Fall For the “Verification Code” Scam

If someone asks for your cell phone number to send you a “verification link,” don’t do it. OfferUp does not use verification codes to verify posts.

Avoid the “Too Good to Be True” Pricing Scams

Beware of any deal that is too good to be true.

“Too good to be true” deals include $30 new iPhones, new $40 laptops and any other high-priced item that has a price too good to be true. 

One of the more popular scams at the time of this article is related to selling popular graphics cards for a lower-than-normal price. Many of these cards normally go for much higher prices, thanks to component shortages and other issues.

Only Purchase Local Items

The farther away an item is from your location, the higher the risk that you’ll never receive the item.

A scammer can come up with numerous excuses for not shipping, or claim the package was lost in the mail, hoping that you’ll eventually give up on getting the item or a refund.

If you purchase locally, you can meet up face-to-face with the seller, where you can instantly retrieve the item.

Research the Seller Before Buying From Them

Always check a seller’s profile. Look for multiple reviews and good reviews. This may put your mind to rest.

However, also look for accounts with duplicate information, blurry images of products, or requests to communicate outside of the app.

If you see any of this, think twice before buying from the seller.

Only Make Purchases in the App

If you are paying electronically for your item, only do so through the OfferUp app or website.

Never wire money, pay by sending a gift card, or send or receive money via check. The less traceable a payment, the tougher it will be to get your money back.

As mentioned above, if you receive a check, there is a very good chance that it will bounce like a rubber ball, and you’ll end up owing your bank for the money you’ve withdrawn, as well as bad check charges.

Don’t Accept Overpayment for Shipping Fees

Scammers will send a check for a larger amount than the total of the item and shipping costs.

They’ll claim it was a mistake, and instead of having to send you a new check, ask you to deposit the check and then send them a refund for the overpayment.

If you do this, you’ll get stuck with a rubber check and will be responsible for paying your bank for the fake check.

Never Provide Any Personal Information About Yourself

Never provide any personal information about yourself. 

The more info you give a scammer, the easier it will be for them to pretend to be you and commit identity theft.

With enough personal information, bad guys can apply for credit cards using your name, and can also gain access to your checking or savings account, stealing your hard-earned cash.

Report Suspicious Postings to OfferUp

If you see the same item posted more than once or spot anything else that indicates that a listing or seller isn’t on the up and up, contact OfferUp about it.

This helps ensure that other buyers won’t be a victim of a scam.

Protect Your Account With a Strong Password

OfferUp offers a two-factor authentication feature.

This requires a second piece of login information to complete the login process. This is a numeric or alphanumeric code that is sent to your device, which you then enter into the OfferUp login screen.

OfferUp Scams FAQs

Can You Get Scammed Using OfferUp?

There is a risk of being scammed on online marketplaces like OfferUp. Whether it's OfferUp, eBay, or Craigslist, scammers are out there looking to steal your hard-earned cash or items that you're trying to sell. Bad guys are also looking for ways to separate you from your personal and financial information.

Does OfferUp Offer Buyer Protection?

OfferUp offers a 2-Day Purchase Protection plan that allows buyers to file a claim if the item they receive is not right, is missing, or that is not as described. This protection plan does not apply to transactions completed outside of the OfferUp platform.

In Conclusion

While OfferUp provides an excellent way to purchase items at a lower price, you can also get fooled and lose money or items when you go through the app to buy or sell items.

Luckily, by paying attention to the listings and by researching the sellers and buyers, you can protect yourself from scammers.

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