SINGAPORE: A man named Mr Ma took to the ‘Complaint Singapore’ Facebook group on Wednesday (Jan 3) to share his story about how he had been scammed by a seller on Facebook who sold him an iPhone for $500.

“Yesterday I was scammed by a Facebook seller who said she was selling an iPhone for S$500. She asked me to pay a deposit to her husband Danish. Then he disappeared!” he wrote. “Can spf get my money back? Can this scammer be stopped?Phone 87856861 Danish,” he asked.

Photo: FB screengrab/Complaint Singapore

iPhone Seller on Facebook

On a Facebook group called “Singapore Rental Rooms For Professionals and Students,” Sandra Cheng, the iPhone seller, posted that they were returning to their home country because their parents were sick and needed them to be closer.

She continued by sharing a list of some of her possessions for sale and some for donation to lessen their load and make their move easier. And the iPhone, which costs $500, was also on the list.

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Photo: FB screengrab/Complaint Singapore

In a screenshot of their conversation, the seller said that Mr Ma could pay her Danish husband a partial payment of $100 and pay the balance after he collected the item. In one instance, she even urged him to “PAY NOW” because her husband was waiting.

Photo: FB screengrab/Complaint Singapore

“Reserve sir. That’s the only way to know you’re serious. I’ve kept you since yesterday…at least appreciate.”

Netizens: ‘Don’t buy anything from FB’

After learning about his case, several netizens advised against purchasing through Facebook.

One netizen said, “Why would ppl believe there is a cheap deal in fb lol. Anything that need deposit is a scam .”

Another said: “FB is a platform which mostly are scams and this have been ongoing for past few years. Hope this can be a lesson learnt to everyone that there are NO such good deals in the world. Sorry to know that you are the victim and hope SPF can do something for you.

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Another netizen added that if “it is too good to be true, it is probably a scam. You can try to report it. I hope you get your money back.”

Facebook: A paradise for scammers

There are a lot of actual people selling genuine goods on Facebook Marketplace. However, scammers who pose as legitimate clients and vendors are also very common. 

Because of this, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has advised all Facebook users to protect their transactions by “using secure person-to-person payment solutions”. Buyers can also arrange to meet in person to finalize the transaction and pay after receiving the goods.

Buyers are likewise urged to communicate with sellers exclusively through the platform. This way, they can easily locate your communication logs if you experience transaction issues.

How can I determine whether something is a scam?

Here are the main warning signs, according to Aura, that could assist you in figuring out whether the seller is a scammer on Facebook. 

  • Sellers offer surprisingly low costs for expensive goods
  • Sellers decline face-to-face meetings
  • Sellers or buyers attempt to carry on the discussion outside of Facebook Messenger
  • Sellers or buyers inquire about your phone number
  • They do not have a profile picture
  • The seller wants you to pay with a gift card (as they can sell it, and cannot be traced or disputed)
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Genuine sellers should also exercise caution when receiving malicious URL links or QR codes from buyers via WhatsApp, in-app messaging, or email.

When victims click on the links or scan the QR codes, they are taken to a suspicious website where they are asked to enter their credit card information, one-time password, or internet banking login credentials.