Scam Alert Warning

The start of a New Year is often a time where people will be thinking about, or may have already started, having a bit of a clear out and possibly selling on some of their unwanted stuff.

One of the most popular platforms people are using to sell on any unwanted goods is Facebook Marketplace, but anyone planning on listing items here will need to be aware of a scam where the ‘buyer’ says they will use a courier service to pay for an item.

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How the scam works

Initially the scammer will send a message to the seller pretending to be interested in their item. They then claim they will pay for the item by sending cash in an envelope which will be delivered by a courier company such as UPS Delivery or TNT Express.

Often the scammer will claim to be stuck in work, or unable to drive, hence the offer to send the envelope containing cash through the courier service. If the seller agrees to the unusual method, the ‘buyer’ will then ask for their name, address and email address.

Once they have this info, they will ask the seller to pay some kind of ‘insurance cost’ to the courier. The ‘buyer’ will try to explain that this is needed because the courier is shipping physical cash, but not to worry and that they will get this money refunded.

Meanwhile, the seller will receive an email appearing to be from the courier company, asking for the insurance cost to be paid so the courier company can make the delivery.

This will NOT be a legitimate email, no delivery will have been arranged, and the link in the email will direct the seller direct to a phishing site where the money will get paid to the scammer. The phishing site can also steal the debit/credit card information that is being used to pay.

“Take sufficient steps to keep yourself safe”

Roger Mapleson, Trading Standards and Licensing Lead, said: “Always be extra cautious if a prospective buyer mentions sending you money in an unusual way, such as using a courier company to deliver cash. These supposed ‘buyers’ can be extremely convincing, but it’s really important you never try to make a payment to cover ‘insurance costs’ or anything similar, despite what you are being told. The email appearing to come from the courier service may look legitimate, but please remember this doesn’t necessarily mean it is. Always be suspicious, and take sufficient steps to keep yourself safe.”

Report a suspicious email

If you spot a suspicious email forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) – report@phishing.gov.uk

For more information see the National Cyber Security Centre website.

General scam advice

Consumer advice can be obtained from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service. They can be contacted on 0808 223 1144 (Welsh) or 0808 223 1133 (English).

Report a cyber crime

If you think you may have been the victim of fraud or cyber-crime, you should report this to Action Fraud via their website or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Action Fraud is the UK’s National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre.

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