Staffordshire Police is urging residents across the county to be vigilant of fraudsters who appear to be genuine buyers or sellers on Facebook Marketplace.
Recently, sellers have lost high-value items after being led to believe that payment has been made or is pending and releasing an item to the buyer.
The buyers in question may show fake bank transfer screenshots or email confirmations as proof of payment.
However, when the seller checks their online accounts, the payment is not there.
Sergeant Alison Bromley of the force’s Investigation Bureau, said: “Fraudsters target sellers who are advertising high-value goods such as designer clothes, mobile phones, game consoles.
“After their item has sold, the seller is led to believe that payment has been made or is pending as the buyer has shown them a screenshot or email confirmation of a fake bank transfer.
“However, it’s not until after they have posted or handed over the item, that they then discover the payment has not been made and that the buyer’s contact details are false.
“We’ve also had incidents where fake bank notes have been used.
“Whilst online buying and selling pages can be a good way to help make some extra money, we would always recommend that sellers check to ensure a payment has been cleared before handing over their item and to be cautious of scams.”
Top tips for online buyers and sellers:
Always check your account or third-party payment facility to ensure a payment has been cleared before handing over or posting items.
Do not use links or websites supplied by the buyer to check for payment, as these can also be forged and look genuine.
Always use reputable payment methods and log in to payment providers directly on your device to verify you have received the payment.
If a buyer makes feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to block them and report them to Facebook.
Check when the Facebook profile was created, if it was created very recently or has very limited information available, approach with caution.
Minimise the personal information you share in the advert such as your address, email, or phone number.
If you’re meeting to exchange items, ensure your safety, take a friend or relative, and arrange to meet in a busy public place.
If you think you have been a victim of fraud you should report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or online by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.
It’s also important to report all fraud-related incidents to Action Fraud to help build a national picture and help prevent others falling victim to scams.