‘Don’t fall for this scam like me’: Woman’s Facebook Marketplace PSA goes viral on TikTok

The victim of a Facebook Marketplace scam has taken to TikTok to warn people not to make the same mistake she did — and now her warning is going viral.

Michel Janse (@michel.c.janse) gained over 1.1 million views, 52,000 likes, 3,600 saves and 1,700 comments after she uploaded the PSA to her account.

Now, like the PSA alerting TikTokers to the potential digestive hazards of raw chia seeds or why you should never wear claw clips in a car, Janse’s scam warning is being shared across social media.

The Google Voice scam on Facebook Marketplace

According to Janse, her interaction with the would-be Marketplace buyer started off normally. After receiving a message from a woman interested in buying her furniture, Janse looked over the woman’s profile (as a general “vibe check”), then messaged her to coordinate the purchase.

That’s when the exchange took a suspicious turn.

“For my safety, I just want to confirm that you’re a real person,” the buyer allegedly wrote to Janse. “Are you ok if I voice call you from Google?”

Though her gut told her the request seemed odd, Janse agreed to send her phone number.

She then received a text with a Google Voice code, which the buyer asked Janse to relay to her. Janse complied — only to realize afterward that she’d been scammed.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, if you give a scammer your phone number and then relay the code from Google Voice, the scammer is able to create a Google Voice number linked to your phone number. The scammer will then use your number to rip off other people and conceal their identity.

However, sometimes these scammers are after more than just your phone number or a Google Voice code. “If they get enough of your information, they could pretend to be you to access your accounts or open new accounts in your name,” the FTC says.

For those who have already been scammed, there are steps to reclaim your Google Voice number — steps that Janse says she took after realizing her error.

‘… thank you for this warning’

Over 1,700 TikTokers commented on Janse’s video, many of them thanking her.

“I actually have never heard of this so thank you for sharing. So glad you were able to get things back,” commented @prairie_girl_4life.

“As someone who just started using facebook market, thank you for this warning … ngl i could’ve fell for it,” wrote @azenaetherial.

Some, however, had heard of the scam before — and some had fallen victim to it themselves.

“I have heard of this. I always tell them I prefer to keep communication on fb messenger and they never write back,” wrote @cherylann212.

“Happened to me too. I no longer have access to my Facebook,” commented @fiftiesrediscovery.

How to avoid other Facebook Marketplace scams

According to the FTC, there are multiple ways that scammers can cheat you out of your money, including fake payments, bogus refund requests and fake check overpayments.

To avoid being scammed on Marketplace, the FTC advises sellers:

  • Don’t accept a mobile payment from someone you don’t know.

  • Never deposit a check (or mobile payment) for more than the selling price.

  • Don’t share your Google Voice verification code — or any verification code — with someone you don’t know.

But it’s not just sellers who can be victimized by a Marketplace scam. Buyers can be scammed as well. Facebook advises Marketplace users to be aware of the different types of scams and to learn how to avoid them.

“Scams can happen to both buyers and sellers. Some listings may also be scams. 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,” the platform explains.

How to report a scam

According to Facebook, if you see something you think is a scam, you should stop communicating with the buyer or seller and report the suspected scam to Facebook.

The FTC advises victims to also report the incident at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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