People have been showing up at his doorstep to pick up items for which they have paid deposits, including a sectional sofa. But the sofa does not exist.
The hackers have used Hanna’s account to list numerous items for sale including golf carts, commercial lawnmowers, a farm tractor, outdoor furniture, motorcycles, kitchen appliances and even French bulldog puppies.
On Monday, Fox 8 reached out to the hackers, asking about the puppies. The hackers demanded a $300 re-homing fee to hold them, asking us to send it with Zelle, Venmo, PayPal or Messenger Pay.
Those showing up on Hanna’s doorstep expecting to pick up a couch had paid a $50 deposit. Among them is a Stark County Sheriff‘s deputy.
None of the items exists, and Hanna does not even have access to his account to be able to delete it.
“Facebook, Meta, we sent them all messages. There’s no return on any of them. There’s no phone number that you can call,” Hanna said.
Facebook does offer suggestions for buyers to prevent them from becoming victims of scams on its Marketplace.
Among their recommendations are:
- Double-check deals that seem too good to be true
- Do not send deposits for high-value items without confirming that they’re real first.
- Always verify the tracking numbers that you see on Marketplace on the shipping company’s website, and make sure that the delivery address and shipping information are correct.
- Review the seller’s profile to learn more about the seller.
The FBI says that over the past five years, $27 billion has been lost to internet crime, with $10.3 billion in the last year alone.
The agency operates an internet crime complaint center website, IC3.gov, where victims are encouraged to file reports.
On Tuesday, the Cleveland Field Office of the FBI also shared its recommendations to prevent people from becoming victims of internet crimes saying, “FBI Cleveland reminds you, that in addition to losing money on a bogus purchase, unsuspecting consumers may be giving away personal information and debit or credit card details. Victims may receive nothing except a compromised identity or fraudulent card charges. The Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, is the Nation’s central hub for reporting cybercrime. It is run by the FBI, the lead federal agency for investigating cybercrime.”
TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF
- Verify websites prior to making a purchase.
- Be wary of online retailers who use a free email service instead of a company email address.
- Do not judge a company by their website; flashy websites can be set up and taken down quickly.
- Pay for items using a credit card dedicated to online purchases.
- Be wary of sellers who accept only wire transfers, virtual currency, gift cards, or cash.
- Never make purchases using public Wi-Fi.
- Verify the legitimacy of a seller before you purchase, take steps such as looking at consumer reviews and checking with the Better Business Bureau.
- Beware of sellers posting under one name but requesting funds to be sent to another.
- Do not click on links or provide personal or financial information to an unsolicited email.
- Make sure anti-virus/malware software is up to date and block pop-up windows.
- Use safe passwords or pass-phrases. Never use the same password on multiple accounts.
If you are the victim of online or internet-enabled crime, the FBI recommends taking the following actions:
- Report to the FBI IC3 at www.ic3.gov. as quickly as possible.
- Report the activity to the online payment service used for the financial transaction.
- Contact your financial institution immediately to stop or reverse the transactions.
- Ask your financial institution to contact the corresponding financial institution where the fraudulent or suspicious transfer was sent.
- Contact Your Local FBI Field Office
The Cleveland Better Business Bureau on Tuesday also weighed in on the scheme.
Sue McConnell, the President and CEO of the Cleveland Better Business Bureau told Fox 8 that you just need to be very skeptical, unfortunately.
“Online scams are very prevalent and BBB hears about them all the time from people buying from social media websites or bogus websites online,” McConnell said. “These scammers are often based overseas they are very organized gangs of criminals.”
To protect yourself in online transactions the BBB suggests, “If you are able to pay with a credit card we always recommend you do that because if you get scammed you have some recourse through your credit card company to investigate that purchase and give you a credit for that purchase. When you are online you don’t want to provide a debit card number for example because you don’t have the same protection.”
Other tips from the BBB include:
- If you see an image of something that you are buying you can right-click on that image and search for it in Google, chances are it’s not a valid sale.
- The BB recommends that if you are buying a product from someone or someplace that you have never purchased from before, don’t make any advance payments
- If you are buying something from a Facebook Marketplace, it is best to meet the seller in a public place or even a police department parking lot.
Most importantly make sure to protect your personal information at all costs.