Woman talking(l+r), Facebook Marketplace(c)

Koshiro K/Shutterstock @rachel__blake/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘Don’t send me any more money. I’m gonna call Venmo’: Woman warns of ‘advanced’ Facebook Marketplace scam

'An immediate red flag.'


Eric Webb


Posted on Feb 18, 2024

There are dishonest people on the internet? You don’t say. Scams are everywhere. But if you’re on the lookout for specific tricks that might cross your digital path, TikTok creator Rachel Blake (@rachel__blake) recently posted a viral video about shady behavior she encountered on Facebook Marketplace.

The video has 195,000 views and more than 1,800 likes.

@rachel__blake Thankfully, this isn’t my first time with scammers on Facebook Marketplace. #facebookmarketplacefinds #facebookmarkerplacescam #scammers ♬ original sound – Rachel Blake

“I just encountered probably the most advanced scammer yet,” Blake said to the camera.

The creator said she’s dealt with scammers before, but this latest experience caught her off guard. A woman reached out and asked about buying a TV console Blake put on sale. The woman didn’t seem suspicious at first. She said her husband would pick the item up and asked what area Blake lived in. She asked Blake if the creator preferred Venmo or Zelle for payment.

That’s when alarm bells started to ring. Blake said that woman claimed to have a Venmo business account. The woman claimed to have sent the payment but asked for Blake’s email address to send a receipt. 

When Blake got the email, she said, it claimed that the buyer needed to send her $350 in additional funds, so that Blake’s personal Venmo account would have a $500 minimum balance, supposedly needed to conduct transactions between business and personal accounts. (Not true.) The woman expected Blake to then send her that amount back when the transaction was done.

“I tell her that’s really fishy. Don’t send me any more money. I’m gonna call Venmo,” Blake said. 

The buyer didn’t want to get Venmo involved, Blake said. The creator checked the earlier email and clicked on the phone number inside—and it went to a Google-generated phone line, not the real Venmo customer service line, which she verified on the payment platform’s website.

A customer service rep for Venmo told Blake that the transaction was not legit. Blake received multiple calls and a text from the phony number while this was going on. 

“Just be really careful. Whenever I’m buying or selling on Facebook Marketplace, unfortunately there’s a lot of really bad people out there,” Blake said. Any time a buyer sends you more money and then want you to send it back, be wary, she said. 

“You’re going to have me send you money, and then you’re going to leave,” Blake said to prospective scammers. The “buyer” of the TV console disappeared once Blake mentioned looping Venmo directly into the situation, she said.

In the comment section of Blake’s video, dozens of viewers had a simple message: When it comes to selling things online, accept cash only.

“That’s not really advanced tho lol. Anytime someone mentions additional contact methods, that’s an immediate red flag,” one commenter wrote.

“I always turn down payment in advance. I tell people I’ll put it to pending and then they can pay Venmo/zelle/cash when they come for the item,” another commenter wrote.

“First red flag is the email part. I have a business Venmo account I send money from. There’s no invoice needed,” a viewer chimed in.

“We always meet in public, never our home. Cash only. We load in our truck & meet in a busy retail parking lot. If they don’t agree, they aren’t my sale!” a commenter added.

“Happened to my wife. they were trying the exact same thing but when he asked for email – she didn’t have a good feeling,” another person commented. 

“Exact same thing happened to me, i immediately responded ‘no sir, Venmo will show up instantly or i can’t make the sale,’” a comment read.

At least one viewer asked for clarification: “I still don’t understand how you can be scammed? If they send you the money then what ?” Blake replied, “They will send a receipt via email showing the ‘payment,’ then asking you to Venmo it back. The email is fake. I don’t think most fall for it, but it’s still sad that this scam is so common.”

The Daily Dot also reached out to Blake via TikTok, as well as Venmo and Facebook via email.

“Scams come in different forms, so it’s important to know what scams are, and how to recognize them when buying and selling on Marketplace,” according to Facebook’s help page about scammers on Marketplace

Facebook terms Blake’s situation a “buyer scam,” or “when someone tries to buy or trade items from someone else without paying, resulting in a loss of money for the seller and a gain for the buyer.”

The company also specifically warns against phishing scams, including the type of link manipulation that Blake encountered with the fake email. “These messages contain a link to a phony site that looks like the official business,” according to Facebook.

Facebook’s help page urges Marketplace users to cease contact with questionable buyers and sellers and report suspected scams.

Venmo has its own online tips about how to avoid scammers on its platforms (and so does parent company PayPal). It specifically calls out strangers who ask users to send money back to them as new payments, similar to the scenario Blake described.

“It’s best not to exchange payments with people who you don’t know,” the company’s support page reads. Venmo also urges users who suspect a scam is taking place to contact their support team directly

According to Venmo, the company has a zero-tolerance policy for attempted fraudulent activity and will discontinue accounts that violate its policies. The company also offers Venmo Purchase Protection, which in some cases protects users against attempted scams.

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*First Published: Feb 18, 2024, 6:05 am CST