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Scam Alert - Online Shopping Fraud

Gloucestershire Police are warning residents of a recent increase in online shopping fraud, with 11 reports made to Action Fraud last week by local residents. The most common platform featured within the complaints was Facebook Marketplace. 

What is a scam on Facebook Marketplace?

Scams can happen to a buyer or seller. Scams come in different forms, so it's important to know what to look for. 

Buyer scam: When someone tries to obtain items from a seller without paying. Recent reports have featured purported buyers using fake banking apps and spoofed email messages from banks, to trick the seller into believing that funds have been sent.  The seller then sends the item only to find later that they haven’t received any payment.

Seller scam: Advertising items for sale which are never sent to the buyer. Seller scams often lure buyers into conducting transactions outside of the trading platform and / or to transfer funds as a “deposit”, in advance of the item being sent.  The seller profile is then removed and the buyer is left out-of-pocket.


Please help us raise awareness of this scam by informing your elderly or vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbours.

Please see below some hints and tips to help keep you safe when shopping online.

  • Double check any deals that seem too good to be true – scammers may use lower prices to lure buyers into a scam.  Look at similar items advertised for sale
  • Review the sellers profile to check out their ratings and reviews
  • Never send items before you have received verified payment
  • Always check that the money has arrived and is cleared in your account and that it is not still ‘awaiting confirmation’
  • Do not use unusual payment methods – only use Facebook Checkout, PayPal or cash when using Facebook Marketplace
  • If a buyer becomes pushy, aggressive or makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to block them and report them to Facebook
  • Don’t give away personal information and if you need to provide your address for a buyer to collect an item, only do so once you are confident they have committed to buy it
  • If you meet-up in person with any purchaser on Facebook, think of your own safety – meet in a well-lit, public place and try to have a family member or friend accompany you
  • If anything doesn’t feel right about an online sale, cancel it
  • Keep your devices up to date – make sure you install the latest software and app updates
  • Take extra care with links in messages, emails and texts - Some of the messages you receive about amazing offers may contain links to fake websites, designed to steal your money and personal details. Not all links are bad, but if you are unsure don't use the link, go separately to the website.
  • What to do when things go wrong

    We all make mistakes and these days the scams can be incredibly convincing.

    If you have fallen victim to fraud, you should report the details to Action Fraud and contact your bank to seek advice. You can contact Action Fraud on the phone by calling 0300 123 2040 Monday to Friday 8am - 8pm. If you are deaf or hard of hearing you can contact us on use text phone 0300 123 2050.

    For more information on safe online shopping, visit the Gloucestershire Constabulary Website - Online shopping | Gloucestershire Constabulary

    For more information on using Facebook Marketplace specifically, you can visit When buying and selling | Facebook Help Centre

    Please note, we're unable to accept reports of crime through Your Neighbourhood Alerts. You can report non-emergency crime online here. Always call 999 in an emergency. 

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    Message Sent By
    Fraud Protect Officer
    (Police, Economic Crime Team, Gloucestershire)

    Neighbourhood Alert Cyber Essentials