Editor’s Note: To protect the family, we’ve chosen not to use their names or exact address.
MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- A Midland couple is speaking out after they said their home has become the target of a Facebook Marketplace scam. The husband-and-wife pair said they want people to be aware of the scam, so they don’t lose their hard-earned money.
On February 11, a woman living in Midland’s Green Tree subdivision said she was at the grocery store when her neighbor called to report an unexpected visitor.
“On the day this first occurred, I was at the store and my neighbor called. She said, ‘There’s a man at your house with a trailer and he said he’s here to pick up a refrigerator that he bought…but it doesn’t look like you’re selling a refrigerator.’ So, I told her we weren’t and that she should just tell him he has the wrong house,” the couple said.
The neighbor said she informed the man that he had the wrong address, and that’s when he showed her a message he’d received on Facebook telling him the appliance he’d paid for would be waiting at the young couple’s home.
“The scammer gave them our address!”
The same thing happened two more times that day- hopeful buyers knocked on the family’s front door, only to be told they’d been scammed. And it hasn’t stopped since.
“This has happened fourteen more times…that’s fourteen different personalities coming to our door to be turned away. The first person drove from Monahans, so they were very upset…the look on their faces when they realized they’d been scammed…some don’t believe us, everyone has a different reaction. One guy who really sticks out is a guy who got off work and showed up and was pretty excited that he’d gotten such a good deal on a washer and dryer for his family. When we told him, he just looked so defeated.”
It’s happened so frequently that the family has posted this sign on their front door:
And it’s caused the family some level of concern because they just never know how someone will react when they realize their money has been stolen. Beyond that, some buyers are showing up late in the evening after the couple’s young children have gone to bed.
“We have children here and we’ve told them not to open the door to strangers but it’s hard to explain to them what is going on. We are starting to fear something might happen…it only takes one person to get angry.”
The couple called the non-emergency line at the Midland Police Department to report the situation, unfortunately there isn’t much the police can do because the family in Green Tree, as well has the people showing up to pick up items they’ve paid for, haven’t done anything wrong. It’s the scammers who have committed a crime, and that can be hard to track.
“These scammers are smart about it. They ask for payment via Cash App and Venmo instead of PayPal, so the victim can’t even file a claim. And as soon as they realize they’ve been scammed, the seller on Facebook has blocked them,” the couple said.
The family isn’t sure why their home has become a target, but it could be that they live in a “good” part of town. And unfortunately, that’s a valid concern…several online sites with buyer-beware warnings stated that scammers will find homes in nice areas so that if a buyer searches for the address online, the buyer feels safe showing up and knocking on the door.
Regardless of the reason, the family just wants others to be aware.
“We just want people to know this is happening, so they don’t get scammed.”
So how can you protect yourself?
- Before you buy, read Facebook’s Purchase Protection policy.
- If you are paying in advance, use a service like PayPal that allows buyers to dispute a transaction in the event of a scam.
- Learn to spot scam accounts- these sellers will typically have new profiles with limited information in the bio, few wall posts, and either no friends in the list, or a large number of friends from other countries but few local connections, they may have only a few photos posted with very little interaction or comments, they also might have a URL that doesn’t match up with the profile’s screen name.
- Additionally, take screenshots of all your correspondence with any seller for reference if you are later blocked.
- If you do fall victim to any scam, file a report with the police. It may seem like a futile effort, but you never know what information might help investigators find the party responsible.