July 1, 2022

Finance & Economy

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Scammers target sellers on Facebook Marketplace

Scammers attempt to trick sellers into thinking they’re interested in buying an item but really are attempting to hijack user’s phone numbers.

VICTORIA, Texas – Online scammers are using a new method to attempt to steal your information and gain access to your phone.

Shirley Vatter and her husband Tom have sold numerous items on Facebook Marketplace, an online space where users can list items and services for sale, as well as a place to buy goods directly from an individual. Shirley says that she’s wary of scammers who she knows run rampant online, but after she recently listed her TV for sale, she noticed something strange, a new kind of scam which at first didn’t even seem like a scam.

“As soon as I posted it I start getting hits asking questions about it, and then asking if they could send me a six-digit security code to make sure I was a real person,” says Vatter.

The scammer will send to your phone what’s called a ‘Google Voice verification code’. The scammer will then ask you to send that code over to them in which they use to create a Google Voice number linked to your phone, essentially hijacking your number, where they can then use your phone number for nefarious purposes.

“They use that to get into your phone, and once in your phone they can use it to make calls or represent themselves as a different person to a different user, including getting into your accounts,” says Tom.

These same scammers also use this same method on those who post ads about a lost pet. The scammer will claim to have found the lost pet and deploy the same tactic, asking for the code that they have sent to your phone.

Shirley and Tom avoided falling victim to the scam but want to warn others about the new scam that they’ve started to see when they try to sell things online.

The FTC made an announcement warning the public of the scam which you can read here. The FBI also released an announcement on this scam which you can find here.

Anytime you buy or sell something online it’s best to play it safe and use your best judgment. If something feels off it might be a scammer. Avoid giving out your personal cell phone number and only communicate with buyers or sellers through Facebook Marketplace’s messenger. When making a transaction from something bought or sold online don’t go alone and meet in a public place.

Scammers target sellers on Facebook Marketplace