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One-third of Facebook ads are potentially scams

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A study has found over a third of Facebook ads could be scams, potentially resulting in UK customers losing nearly £60 million in 2023. 

TSB, the retail banking chain, has conducted the investigation.

TSB's fraud team engaged with 100 sellers on the online marketplace, scrutinising each case to determine the legitimacy of the listings. 

The team discovered discovered 34 percent of the adverts were fraudulent, employing tactics commonly associated with scams. 

These tactics included redirecting supposed buyers to fake websites, refusing in-person viewings of items, and demanding upfront fees.

Among the deceptive listings, TSB found instances where items labelled "brand new" were priced significantly lower than their actual retail value. 

For instance, an iPhone 13 was listed at a mere £84, whereas the official Apple website sells the same model for £599. 

The investigation also uncovered a 2016 Audi Q3 advertised for £6,000.

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The seller avoided questions and directed TSB's fraud expert to an email address associated with a reported car fraud scam.

The most common categories associated the scams in 2023 were vehicles/vehicle parts, leading at 21 percent.

Phones, shoes and clothing, games consoles, and concert/festival tickets follow it. 

TSB estimated potential losses of £59,714,000 by users of Facebook Marketplace in 2023, combining data from UK Finance and TSB's internal records.

It reveals that 73 percent of its purchase fraud cases are linked to the platform.c

Losses of £59,714,000 by users of Facebook Marketplace in 2023

TSB noted the urgency for action by social media companies to fulfill their commitments under the government's Online Fraud Charter. 

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Matt Hepburn, TSB's fraud spokesperson, said: "You wouldn't shop at a supermarket if a third of the items were stale or counterfeit - so the same should apply to Facebook Marketplace, where you have a one in three chance of being scammed when paying online.

"Social media companies really must act on their commitments under the government's Online Fraud Charter by urgently clearing up their platforms - removing scam adverts is a good first test."

A spokesperson from Meta, the owner of Facebook, said: "With tens of millions of people using our apps daily in the UK, we recognise our important role in tackling the industry-wide issue of online purchase scams and have systems in place to block scams.

"Facebook Marketplace is a local meet-up and collection service so we don't facilitate payments or shipping, but scammers exploit this by taking conversations off our platforms where we can't enforce.

"We encourage our community to report scams immediately so we can take action and we'll continue equipping customers with knowledge to transact securely and avoid fraud on Marketplace."

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