BBB scam warning: Use caution when selling used items online


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — If you are decluttering your home and looking to sell your unwanted items online, the Better Business Bureau warns you to be on the lookout for buyers wanting to pay you more than the listed price.

The BBB says if the offer seems ‘too good to be true,’ there is a good chance that it is.

Scammers search online sale sites like Facebook Marketplace to contact sellers and offer more than the listed price. Their reasons vary as to why.

The BBB says the scammer may claim they want to cover shipping and other fees “because you have been so helpful,” or overpay through apps like PayPal or Cash App by claiming it is a policy of the service.

They may also mail you a check for more than the asking price and then insist it was an accident.

Once you are overpaid by the scammer, they will ask for the extra money back.

But here is where the problem gets worse. Once you return the money, you’ll likely find that the initial payment was false and the check bounces or the buyer’s online payment will be denied.

Then the money you “returned” to the scammer is lost along with the item you sold.

The BBB offers tips on how to avoid these selling scams:

  • Don’t ship an item before you receive a payment. Make sure any payments you receive are legitimate before you ship your item to the seller. If you ship before they pay, you will have no way to get your item back.
  • Don’t believe offers that are too good to be true. Unless you’re selling a rare or highly desirable item that several people are bidding on, you should not expect anyone to offer to pay more than what you are asking. If someone tries to overpay you, consider it a red flag.
  • Look out for counterfeit emails. Scammers are skilled at imitating emails from popular payment services, such as Venmo or PayPal. Examine all emails carefully. If an email comes from a domain that isn’t official or contains obvious typos and grammatical errors, it’s probably a scam.
  • Report scams to the online marketplace. Be sure to report suspicious activity including dishonest buyers or sellers. Especially report any suspected scam to Scam Tracker, so that others can be aware.

Read the BBB Tip: Selling Used Items Online and get informed about fake check scams.  If you think you have come across a scam, report it at Even if you didn’t fall for the scam, your report can help protect others from scams.


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