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I listed an item for sale on Facebook marketplace. I immediately received one or two messages, asking me for my email address and full name. The claim is that they will send me money on Zelle, and someone else will pick up the item for them. It's obvious that the person contacting me does not live in my country, much less my city. This seems like some kind of scam to me, but I'm not clear how it would work. I've never used Zelle before, but I'm assuming that it's similar to Paypal or Venmo.

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  • @BenMiller-RememberMonica I agree with the answer there.
    – littleadv
    Apr 25 at 18:30
  • @littleadv Fair point. I would still like to know how this scam works. Should I edit my question?
    – Raj
    Apr 25 at 18:32
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    @Raj we can speculate, but it's probably a variation of this or this
    – littleadv
    Apr 25 at 18:42
  • The problem with "how does this scam work" questions is that they're usually asked way too early in the interaction to know for sure what will happen if you go along with it.
    – glibdud
    Apr 26 at 2:34

2 Answers 2

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This seems to be a scam. According to Trend Micro:

Then they will send you a fake Zelle payment notification, making you believe that they’ve paid for the item. You may also receive a fake email from your bank, falsely claiming that they have already paid with Zelle, making you believe you need to send them the item. Of course, they haven’t sent you a cent!

This personal blog shares an example:

My prospective buyer said they were initiating the transfer and to keep an eye out for it. Then I got an email, claiming to be from Zelle but sent from “online.servicepayment@aol.com”.

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    A variant is they will send you more than you asked for, in order to pay their pickup person. The payment still gets reversed, but now you are out the delivery fee and the item.
    – chepner
    Apr 25 at 18:48
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    It seems to be relatively easy to verify you really got a payment - log in to your bank account and check.
    – Aganju
    Apr 25 at 19:49
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    @Aganju That's still not safe. Just because your bank received money does not mean it will stay there... fraudolent payments can be reversed, and in some special cases even wire transfers can be blocked and reversed (e.g. famous youtuber Linus Tech Tips recently got scammed but "managed" to "un-wire" a wire-transfer due to some contacts they indirectly had with the bank that received the wire).
    – GACy20
    Apr 26 at 9:10
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Zelle payments are non-reversible, so if you got the payment, you got it, period. Although make sure to check at your bank account (login and see it), and don’t fall for fake emails claiming so.

There is a risk that they use a stolen bank account for paying, but that risk is always there for any payment. A scammer in a foreign country has little use of an object in some agents’ hand picked up from you, so I think chances are this is ok.

You could ask to take a photo from the pickup person’s id, and with that be on the sure side - a scammer wouldn’t accept that.

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