Over 1,800 customers saved from potential Facebook Marketplace scams by new Santander Fraud Protections

  • Introduction of new fraud prevention measures in December 2023 have prevented 1,889 customers from falling victim to a Facebook Marketplace purchase scam over four months.
  • However, fraudsters’ manipulative tactics have resulted in hundreds of customers attempting to circumvent the fraud prevention measures.
  • 439 customers fell victim to a Facebook Marketplace scam since December, resulting in an average claim of £647.

New Facebook Marketplace fraud protection measures introduced by Santander before Christmas have helped stop over 1,800  customers from potentially falling victim to a purchase scam.

The new dynamic fraud warnings on mobile and online banking mean customers transferring money via mobile or online banking to purchase an item on Facebook Marketplace are asked a series of tailored questions about their purchase.  If customers have not seen the item in person to ensure the item is genuine, the transaction is stopped by the bank, and they are encouraged to either see the item in person or use a more secure payment method, like a debit or credit card. 

Between 5 December 2023 and 13 May 2024, Santander prevented 1,899 customers from proceeding with their Facebook Marketplace purchase, after customers admitted to not having seen the item in person that they were attempting to buy. 

An additional 439 customers fell victim to a Facebook Marketplace scam, which included 263 customers who initially told the bank that they had not seen the item in person, but then went on to change their response to the fraud prevention questions, so that their payment would process. On average, customers who fell victim to a Facebook Marketplace purchase scam lost £647.

Chris Ainsley, Head of Fraud Risk Management at Santander said: “Fraudsters can be incredibly manipulative. The fact that in just a few months hundreds of customers felt the need to attempt to sidestep our fraud prevention measures by changing their answer so they could proceed with the purchase, goes to show the level of pressure that these criminals are placing on unsuspecting victims.

“If you’re buying something on Facebook Marketplace or another online selling platform and haven’t seen the item in person, are being pressured into making a payment through a bank transfer, or are told to lie to your bank about the purchase, then beware. These are telltale signs of a purchase scam.”

Of the customers who went through the new Facebook Marketplace scam warning between its introduction on 5 December 2023 and 13 May 2024:

  • 45,427 customers attempted to make a bank transfer to purchase an item through Facebook Marketplace.
  • 35,588 customers said they had seen the item in person, meaning the payment was made.
  • 1,899 customers were prevented from making the payment after admitting to not having seen the item in person, and the payment was not subsequently made.
  • 7,950 customers were initially prevented from making a payment, but then subsequently confirmed that they had seen the item in person, meaning the payment was made. Of this group, 240 customers then went on to report that they had fallen victim to a purchase scam. 
  • 439 people in total fell victim to a scam on Facebook Marketplace, losing a total of £284,000, an average of £647 per person. Of the 439 customers who fell victim to a scam, 263 were customers who changed their answer.

Santander’s ‘Tackling Authorised Push Payment Fraud’ report found that over seven in 10 purchase scams originate on social media.

Top Tips to protect yourself from a Facebook Marketplace purchase scam include:

  • Shop local and only buy an item you have seen in person - Facebook Marketplace lets you view items from local sellers near you. By using local sellers and seeing the item in person before buying, you can verify the item is real and not a scam.
  • Don’t let someone rush you into buying an item – Scammers will often be quite pushy for a quick sale and create a sense of urgency by saying there are other buyers wanting to purchase the item. Check the seller’s history and how long they have been on the platform for.
  • Don’t send funds by bank transfer or PayPal ‘Friends and Family’ – Scammers like to use these payment methods as they are difficult for banks to recover stolen funds from. Only use these methods if you have seen the item in person.
  • Too good to be true? –  An item priced under the recommended selling value should always be a red flag. But it doesn’t need to be a high value purchase, criminals will post everything that’s in demand, from that impossible to find collectible figure to the latest sold-out toy.
  • Stay secure – Any attempts to communicate outside of an official site like Facebook Marketplace should also be treated with suspicion. They may be doing this to avoid a written record on the platform of their scam.

For more information on fraud and scams please visit our website. Take Five also has some useful information on their website.

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The information contained in our press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions.

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 31 December 2023, the bank had around 19,800 employees and serves around 14 million active customers, 7 million digital customers via a nationwide 444 branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the FCA and the PRA in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the FSCS in the UK. 

Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain and one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. The group’s activities are consolidated into five global businesses: Retail & Commercial Banking, Digital Consumer Bank, Corporate & Investment Banking (CIB), Wealth Management & Insurance and Payments (PagoNxt and Cards). This operating model allows the bank to better leverage its unique combination of global scale and local leadership. Santander aims to be the best open financial services platform providing services to individuals, SMEs, corporates, financial institutions and governments. The bank’s purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Santander is building a more responsible bank and has made a number of commitments to support this objective, including raising €220 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2030. In the first quarter of 2024, Banco Santander had €1.3 trillion in total funds, 166 million customers, 8,400 branches and 211,000 employees.