‘Facebook Marketplace scam left me in an absolute mess and I lost thousands’

Lucy Fletcher, spent £3,600 on a ready-built shipping container office that was never delivered to her.

She used Facebook Marketplace to look for deals when she came across the office from a man on the e-commerce platform.

Lucy transferred the cash after exchanging messages and phone calls – and receiving official-looking invoices on business-headed paper.

However, she realised she had fallen victim to this scam when the office never arrived.

The beauty therapist was out of pocket for the £3,600 office, loss of earnings, and buying and converting a new container.

She was unable to work as she had burnt her old office as a way to make space for the new one she was expected to be delivered.

After the bank’s investigation, they only refunded her half of the money she lost.

Lucy, who is from Evesham, Worcestershire, is speaking out after a recent study showed the number of scams on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp surging.

Lucy said: “I feel really vulnerable now – this guy now has my address, he’s had a lot of my money and I’ve lost out on work, so I’ve lost business as well.

“It was just how professional the scammers were – I had no reason to doubt any of it at all. The emotional stress has been unbelievable. It’s been an absolute mess.

“If I’ve been scammed – and I think I’m quite switched onto it – if other people aren’t already then they need to be more aware basically.”

Before the transfer was completed, Santander rang Lucy to check she was happy to go ahead and she confirmed she was.

After the payment had been made, Lucy arranged delivery on July 24 – but five days on she hadn’t heard from the seller.

On the day of delivery, she was told the salesman she had spoken to was out of the office.

Then her husband called, and he was told the container was on the way. But it never arrived.

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She said when she complained to Santander they told her they weren’t going to refund her as they called to check she was happy, and suggested she should have checked Trustpilot.

Lucy feels Santander should have told her what checks to do to make sure the business was legitimate.

She said: “They said the container was on the way – and then we didn’t hear anything after that.

“My husband called again, and they said the person he’d spoken to earlier was out of office, but he could tell he was speaking to the same person who was now claiming to be someone else.

“He was obviously pretending to be a number of different people on this one phone number.

“There was no delivery, we’ve heard nothing at all from them – I literally burned down my existing salon to make space for the container.I was left with nowhere to operate my business from.

“Now I’ve found a new container which I’ve had to do some work on but at least I have somewhere to work from. I feel really annoyed – Santander should have given me a bit more security other than ‘are you happy with this’.

“They should have said we won’t process this until you’ve checked Trustpilot.”

A Daily Mail investigation earlier this month found that scams on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are the source of more than one million cases of fraud every year.

An estimated 16 percent of all crimes recorded by the police in 2022 originated on platforms owned by social media giant Meta, it said – more than double the number of robberies, burglaries, homicides and knife crimes combined.

A spokesperson for Santander said: “Our fraud prevention measures detected that this transaction was potentially fraudulent and blocked the initial payment.However, following a phone conversation with Mrs Fletcher the payment was completed.

“We have thoroughly reviewed this case and in line with the Contingent Reimbursement Model (CRM) Code, given the specific circumstances, have offered to reimburse half of the money lost to Mrs Fletcher.”

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