Facebook Marketplace attacks are on the rise: Here’s what you need to know

Users of the buying and selling program are being urged to shop with care.
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A warning has been issued by police to Australians using buy or sell platforms or online marketplaces after a spate of attacks linked to meet-ups.

The warning comes after a “savage” attack in Brisbane earlier this month. Three members of a Brisbane family were stabbed, and their pet dog killed after they rejected counterfeit money for an electric scooter they were selling on marketplace, 9News reports.

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Concerningly, a string of unrelated attacks has been carried out in Perth, Melbourne, and Adelaide since February 2023.  

In Western Australia, a man in his 40s suffered cuts to the head and was treated with a dozen stitches after two teen girls allegedly attacked him with knives when he arrived to sell his iPhone. 

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Similarly, in Adelaide, a man attempting to sell a phone on Facebook Marketplace was stabbed when a man and a woman came to his home to buy the device. It’s alleged the woman took the phone and ran then the man stabbed the victim when he tried to stop them fleeing.

And a young mother in Melbourne’s outer west listed her car for sale only to be bashed and sliced with a knife when the buyer arrived, and the Facebook Marketplace deal turned became a terrifying carjacking.

Vicious attacks have been taking place across Australia, causing injuries, and even death (Credit: Supplied)

In the wake of the attacks, it’s more important than ever for Australians to exercise caution when shopping on Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, and similar websites warns Cybersecurity expert Susan McLean. 

“We know Facebook Marketplace and other online platforms do attract nefarious criminals,” she told the Today Show.

“That’s just the way it is, (so) you’ve got to be mindful of the fact you are inviting a random stranger of whom you know nothing about often into your house.”

“People are unfortunately too trusting. You can‘t be if you’re going to use online marketplaces.”

The online platform relies on the trust between buyers and sellers (Credit: Supplied)

To protect themselves, Susan suggests buyers and sellers do their research and take safety measures, including buying or selling items in a place in public and using video footage or CCTV.

“If someone is going to come along to your house to allegedly purchase something, check them out online, see what you can find, run their name through Google,” she said.

Police urge anyone affected by an attack or scam from an online marketplace to reach out to authorities. 

“If at any time you feel unsafe, walk away. If you become the victim of a theft or scam, report it immediately to police on 131 444,” the police said in a statement.

Cyber safety expert Susan McClean warns of the dangers (Credit: Supplied)

How to shop and sell safely on Facebook Marketplace

Safewise suggests using the following tips to shop safely online:

  1. Double-check deals that seem too good to be true as scammers may try to use underpriced items to lure buyers.
  2. Do not send money for expensive items without first confirming they’re real by asking to see a receipt or viewing the item in a video call with the owner.
  3. Do not conduct sales alone and arrange them in a safe, public space rather than at home.
  4. Always verify tracking numbers on the shipping company’s website, and make sure that the delivery address and shipping information is correct.
  5. Review the seller’s profile to learn more about them, including ratings and reviews from other buyers.
  6. Use payment options that provide strong protections e.g. Paypal.

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