A growing number of Facebook users selling products on the ‘Malta Marketplace’ are being targeted by people who pretend to be buyers and try to run them out of money.
Maltese times In July, he spoke to six people selling products on Facebook and were asked by a potential buyer to transfer money to a courier. They said they will refund the money when they receive the product.
Since then, a post in the Facebook group ‘Living room’ Warning people to be wary of this scam has received several comments from about 14 people who say they’ve been targeted as well.
Francesca Fabri said a potential buyer with a ‘suspicious profile’ asked for her details to set up a courier pickup after she showed interest in a pinball table she was selling.
“He asked for my email and I gave it to him thinking he would copy me into deals with Fedex,” he said.
“Then I was sent a very poorly written email, allegedly asking Fedex for payment,” he said.
The email was sent from firstname.lastname@example.org and included the courier’s logo to make it look legit.
Asked the seller to follow a link where he was asked to pay €375 for the cost of the item plus €100 in insurance on top of it and said the buyer would reimburse it by post.
When Fabri asked why the buyer couldn’t pay the fee because he was online, he ignored the question and said Fedex would send him instructions.
Other Facebook users speaking to the Times of Malta also reported receiving the same emails from the so-called ‘UPS’, ‘DPD group’ and ‘GLS’.
In three of the cases, the scammer only asked for an insurance fee of €50-100€ and said that the courier would reimburse them after receiving the item.
One person, who chose not to be named, said he thought the email was genuine and nearly paid for the bike he was trying to sell.
“By the way, I spoke to my son in the Netherlands and he immediately said ‘this is a scam,'” he said.
Other scammers used more elaborate fake profiles, while Fabri said the profile looked suspicious because it didn’t contain photos and had limited information.
Sending ‘Living room’ To warn others of the scam, Joe Degiorgio revealed that he learned the image belonged to someone else when he called a potential buyer he suspected was a scam.
“The scammer used an image from the internet to create a fake profile. He avoided the conversation after confronting the scammer with the identity of the person in the photo.”
None of the speakers Maltese times Said they were scammed. Some said they started reporting the problem to Facebook and they all blocked the scammer.
Inspector Timothy Zammit, head of the Cyber Crime Unit, said that they have not received any reports on this issue, but that they have been dealing with this crime for years.
“What has changed is the platform. “As the Malta Marketplace is gaining in popularity, scammers may be using it more, whereas before they were featured more on other classified websites.”
He said measures taken at other auctions and classified websites to prevent scams could cause scammers to turn to other places, such as Facebook, where they might find it easier to create a fake profile.
When asked if Facebook users are at risk when sharing personal information with other users, which is usually done when taking action, he said users should always be cautious.
“Once you hand over this information, you lose control over it. We need to question how real the transaction is. “Some offers don’t make sense,” he said.
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