Selling something on Facebook Marketplace? Beware of scammers acting like they are interested buyers. We have received several reports from individuals who say they received messages through Facebook Messenger or Instagram from an “interested party” until a sale was agreed upon. The scammer then tried to persuade the seller into refunding a bogus Zelle fee they claim they paid on the seller’s behalf.
In a typical Facebook Marketplace scam, the buyer would send a fraudulent check for more than the sale price of the item “to cover shipping costs” and then convince the seller to refund the overpayment. Now, scammers are convincing buyers to use Zelle for payment transactions.
In order for the scheme to work, the scammer must get the seller’s email address in addition to their phone number. By getting the seller’s email address, the scammer is able to send a spoof email impersonating Zelle to the seller stating that they must upgrade their Zelle account to a business profile to receive the payment and a refund of the upgrade cost. The scammer then claims that Zelle messaged them saying the upgrade fee needs to be paid before the transfer can be completed.
The scammer is quick to say they fronted the expense, which ranges between $200 and $300. They will then send screenshots of the fake notice to the seller, including instructions on how the seller must immediately reimburse the buyer for the upgrade fee. The scammer will continue to message the seller to pressure them into transferring the alleged refund quickly.
It’s important to note the following:
- Zelle offers instant transfer of funds from one account to another and deposits and withdrawals may be viewed through online banking immediately.
- Zelle does not charge any fees to send or receive funds.
- There is no upgrade to a “business” account necessary to conduct normal Zelle transfers.
- Zelle does not offer business accounts. The offering bank decides which account types can be linked to a Zelle account.
- The grammar in the fictitious Zelle emails and texts is very poor.
- The domain name on the sender of the Zelle emails is “AOL” or “GMAIL”.
If you’re a Merrimack customer and are concerned your personal or financial information was compromised, please call us directly at 603.225.2793.