Beware of this new scam on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist

The Federal Trade Commission warns of a verification scam targeting people who sell items on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. The FTC calls it the google voice scam and say it may cause someone to use your phone number to conceal their identity and scam other people.

Here’s how it works: The scammer sends you a message letting you know they’re interested in buying your item. They can send you a phone number and ask you to text them. Then they’ll say they’re hesitant to continue because they’ve heard of fake listings online. They want to verify that you are a real person and in order to confirm that your post is legitimate, they will send you a six-digit Google Voice verification code.

“If your message is real send me the code then I’ll call,” a scammer texted.

By returning this code, the FTC says what you’re really doing is helping the scammer set up a the voice of google number linked to your phone number.

“So what’s the harm?” The scammer could use this number to scam other people and hide their identity. Sometimes these scammers look for a Google Voice verification code and other information about you. If they get enough of your information, they could impersonate you to access your accounts or open new accounts in your name,” according to the FTC’s website.

Fortunately, Google offers a simple procedure to recover your number if you are a victim.

“This is a multi-step scam,” said Newburyport cybersecurity consultant Caleb Barlow. “The [scammer is] will now use that voice account to make robocalls or pretend fraud to someone else, possibly a phishing scheme. What is so unique about this is that you are just one link in the chain of building this global fraud.

Two things to remember when selling something on Facebook Marketplace:

  • Connect with a potential buyer and complete your sale in Facebook Messenger – there’s no reason to give out your phone number to anyone

  • Never respond to a security prompt that you did not issue first

“The fraudsters just pivoted. They have become more sophisticated. In this case, they are actually taking advantage of the fact that we trust more who we interact with on Facebook to claim a crime,” Barlow said.

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