The owner of a vintage furniture store in Vancouver’s Chinatown is warning about a Facebook Marketplace scammer who’s asking buyers for deposits and taking off with the cash.
Liliana Faisca sources much of the inventory at Relove Furniture online. When she spotted two items on the popular buy-and-sell platform that would appeal to her eclectic clientele, she messaged the seller.
“They didn’t even ask me at first for a deposit. It was a little bit later on they were like, ‘Oh I’m getting so much interest in the item, would you mind sending a deposit, and that way I could mark it sold for you,’” Faisca tells CTV News. .
It’s a request she says is common on Facebook Marketplace.
“I’ve probably send over a hundred different deposits in the past, and it’s never been an issue,” Faisca said.
So she e-transferred $100 to the seller as a deposit for the $450 items. The day before she was supposed to pick them up, the seller’s Facebook page disappeared. When Faisca called the cell number she’d been given and it was out of service, she realized she’d been scammed.
“It wasn’t a great feeling,” she said. Faisca got her $100 back after disputing the e-transfer through her bank. And she posted to Instagram to warn others in the vintage community about the scammer.
That’s when she learned she wasn’t the only victim.
“All the comments are filled with people that have been scammed by the same person,” she said.
That doesn’t surprise Vancouver Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison.
“They are slippery, they’re prolific. They succeed because they’re able to dupe people. They ghost them and change their identities,” he said.
That’s why police warn against sending deposits to hold items being advertised on digital marketplaces.
“If you’ve got someone who’s pressuring you to e-transfer you the money or give money before you’ve met them or seen the product – that’s a red flag. And it’s somebody you shouldn’t do business with,” Addison said.
Faisca has become far less trusting of sellers on Facebook Marketplace.
“I’m definitely more diligent in looking at the person’s online profile and verifying if it’s a legitimate purchase,” she said.
The small business owner recommends buyers check to see how long a profile has been active, what else the person has sold and to ask for a video of the item they’re interested in, to prove it actually exists.
After doing her due diligence, Faisca says for the right vintage item, she’ll still send a deposit.
“After that happened to me I was definitely more hesitant to send deposits to people,” she said. “But I also realized I was missing out on a lot of great pieces that then I would see somebody else had. And I was like, well, no risk, no reward, right?”