ORANGE CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Thousands of items are listed online through Facebook Marketplace or Facebook “swap” groups. Sioux County officials say they’ve noticed that there has been an increase in scams completed through these services.  

According to a release from the Sioux County Sheriff, the most common scam involves posting an item or service with a price that is “too good to be true.” The poster will then ask a buyer to send them payments via payment services such as Venmo.  

Once the buyer falls victim to the scam and sends the payment, the scammer will deny having received the payment. The victim will then receive a text claiming the payment was not completed, but it is actually the scammer.  

The release states the scammer will go on to persuade the victim to send them more money for an item that doesn’t exist.  

Facebook swap groups have become increasingly popular in the Siouxland area. One “Sioux City Swap” group has more than 61,000 members.  

When looking at an item on swap pages or Facebook Marketplace, there are some things that buyers can keep in mind to help them avoid being scammed. Below are examples provided by the press release: 

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  
  • Before agreeing to buy the item, check the seller’s profile. Most scammers will have very few photos that have been uploaded within a short time period.  
  • Do not send money via online payment or banking services without first seeing the item. Offer to meet in person with cash or send the payment during the pick-up.  
  • Evaluate how the person is communicating. Are they becoming upset or pushy? Do their responses correspond to your messages?  
  • When you pay for an item via services such as Venmo, Cash App, etc., check the name on the account to verify that it matches the name on the seller’s profile.  

Officials reminded buyers to protect themselves and to be mindful of who they’re interacting with while considering Marketplace or other swap groups.