Troubleshooters: Consumer warning on Facebook Marketplace and Venmo scam

ByNydia Han and Heather Grubola WPVI logo
Thursday, October 26, 2023
Consumer warning on Facebook Marketplace & Venmo scam
Troubleshooters: Consumer warning on Facebook Marketplace and Venmo scam

CENTER VALLEY, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- We have a consumer alert straight from one of our viewers.

She tells our Troubleshooter Nydia Han that scammers targeted her through Facebook Marketplace and Venmo to steal her money.

The viewer says she missed multiple red flags that should have clued her into the scam and she wants others to learn from her mistakes. Thanks to the Troubleshooters the story has a happy ending.

"I've been selling a lot of things on Facebook Marketplace. I find it's a great way to sell things," said Beth Freebairn of Center Valley, Lehigh County.

Freebairn is now sounding the alarm after she tried to sell a chair for $50 on the platform.

"This person was doing what you're supposed to, reaching out through the app, contacting you through the app."

The problems started when it came time for the buyer to pay.

"They send like, they need to confirm your Venmo by sending you an email, which should have been red flag number one, but I didn't think about it," she said.

Freebairn said the alleged buyer told her she needed to pay to upgrade her Venmo account from a personal to a business account and to contact the person on the email she received to do that.

"They're also very pushy as they're trying to contact you and saying 'You know this happens all the time, I've been through this before you just need to follow these steps'."

That was red flag number two - she felt pressure to complete the transaction.

"It goes through a Gmail account, red flag number three," she said.

Red flag is right. Venmo will only contact you using an email address ending in

Freebairn was right, it was a scam, but before she realized it, she sent a total of $300 via Venmo to cover what she thought was the cost of the Venmo account upgrade.

"It's really embarrassing. And I hope somebody else catches all those multiple red flags," she said.

Other red flags include: A buyer with an account location far from yours, especially if it's in another country. And any time a buyer asks you for a verification code.

Venmo will ask senders to confirm the last four digits of a new recipient's phone number, but that is different from a verification code you get via text or email.

"Don't get caught people please," she said. "Stop when those red flags come up."

The good news is that Venmo said that after the Troubleshooters alerted the company to the incident, it has been able to shut down these particular scammers. It has also positively resolved the matter with Freebairn, moving her account back to good standing so she does not owe that $300.

For more information:

Protecting Yourself from Scams

Common Scams on Venmo

Learn About Scams

Venmo Purchase Protection

If you find yourself the victim of the Google verification code scam, you can reclaim your number by clicking here.

That scam is when a potential buyer makes an offer for an item you are selling and then asks the seller for their phone number so they can send a verification code to verify that they are a real person.