Offerup Scams: What It Is And How To Avoid Them

Reading time: 9 min read
Harsha Kiran
Written by
Harsha Kiran

Updated · Sep 07, 2023

Harsha Kiran
Founder | Joined March 2023 | LinkedIn
Harsha Kiran

Harsha Kiran is the founder and innovator of He started it as a personal passion proje... | See full bio

Lorie Tonogbanua
Edited by
Lorie Tonogbanua


Lorie Tonogbanua
Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
Lorie Tonogbanua

Lorie is an English Language and Literature graduate passionate about writing, research, and learnin... | See full bio

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OfferUp is a free-to-install smartphone application that allows people to buy and sell things from their homes. The platform is exclusively available in the US, with over 1.9 million mobile users in California alone.

According to OfferUp, about 48% of Americans buy secondhand items in online marketplaces, and 1 in 5 adults use the platform. In 2022, online secondhand sales in the US reached $77 billion, expected to surpass the $100 billion mark in 2026.

While apps like OfferUp offer many advantages, it is still essential to be on the lookout for scammers. An app with that many users is bound to have malicious actors. In this article, you’ll learn about the scams you’ll encounter on OfferUp and the simple ways to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.

🔑 Key Takeaways:

  • OfferUp users must always be careful when sellers make impossible promises or a buyer is overly interested in the product. They are likely scammers.
  • Scams are not only about selling and buying products. Scammers use malware to extract data from the victims and use it to benefit them financially.
  • Sellers should be cautious of buyers who request to make transactions outside the OfferUp application. External transactions make sellers vulnerable, and any issue encountered is not the app's responsibility. 
  • To protect yourself from OfferUp scams, always pay attention to reviews to ensure that a seller is legit, and do not give any personal information.
  • Knowing the different scams on OfferUps helps users avoid becoming a victim.

Types of OfferUp Scams and How You Can Avoid Them

You should avoid all ten types of OfferUp scams

Scammers are everywhere as they have made their way into the online world. In 2022 alone, authorities received 500 million phishing incident reports, and behind each fake email was a scammer.

Unfortunately, these scammers don’t just operate in your inbox. They’ve branched out to several popular marketplaces, including OfferUp. 

Protect yourself from these tricky criminals with a bit of know-how. Here are the different types of scams you should know as a buyer or seller:

Fake OfferUp Website Scam 

Fake or Mirror sites are webpages that mimic an OfferUp listing to trick buyers into clicking a phishing link. Once clicked, the website installs malware on the user’s computer or sells counterfeit items to get your credit card details.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that, between ages 18 and 59, 34% of adults lose their money to fraud. Younger adults reported losses to online shopping fraud that usually began with an ad on social media that led to a website where they could purchase items.

To avoid getting scammed and risking your personal information, never click on anything that leads out of OfferUp. The platform only protects your in-app purchases. External transactions are outside of the app’s liability.

Overpayment Scam

The Internet safety statistics reveal that 55.7% of consumers believe fraud is the most concerning issue regarding mobile app cybercrimes in 2022. One example of fraud is the Overpayment Scam. It’s a Cash Forwarding or Advance Payment fraud.

The fraud starts with the cybercriminal pretending to pay more than requested. After that, they ask the seller to return the excess paid amount for the item. However, since the original transaction was fake, the seller is tricked into ‘returning’ what is essentially their own money.

💡 Did You Know?

According to a 2016 Pew Charitable Trust study, 72% of mobile payment users are Millennials and Generation Xers. The users from those two age groups are in a Goldilocks zone. They’re young enough to embrace new technology but old enough to have jobs and income.

Multiple Posting Scam 

In this scam, the fraudster, often a seller, creates numerous new accounts to set up duplicate listings. 

Moreover, instead of purchasing an item on the app, the scammer tells you to email them. They then ask you for a gift card purchase or to wire payments to make the transaction untraceable.

Since scammers use the same profile photo, one effective way to spoil this scheme is by doing a reverse image search and finding the photo’s true origin. If the picture is fake, you can bet the rest of the product listings are.

Overly Interested Buyer Scam 

Sellers love enthusiastic buyers. After all, it feels great that someone is genuinely interested in an item you’re selling. 

However, this enthusiasm may be a front. Overly interested buyers could be scammers. They’d pretend to have high interest in an item, bombarding the seller with inquiries. Ultimately, they’ll ask the seller to communicate outside the app, often trying to hasten the transaction needlessly.

👍 Helpful Article: 

Falling victim to a scam makes you feel that catching the scammers is challenging. However, tracking down the person who scammed you is possible with the right tools and a can-do attitude.

Need To Sell Fast Scam

If there's an overly interested buyer, the opposite is a ‘Need to sell fast’ seller.

This tactic is usually marked by ads with the phrases "must sell fast" or "priced to sell." It’s a type of social engineering move designed to make buyers slightly panic, making them purchase the item as fast as possible. 

While this is a marketing strategy, it’s a bonafide scam if the fraudster issues too-good-to-be-true offers for rare items. If the price doesn't seem reasonable for the expected market value of the item, it's likely a scam.

Code Verification Scam

Code verifications are added security layers for information protection. However, scammers can use them to dupe sellers into giving them access to their accounts. 

The bogus buyer makes up an excuse to get your phone number, claiming they want to verify that you're real. After that, they send you a malicious link to steal your OfferUp login credentials and other sensitive information.

❗ Remember:

OfferUp doesn’t use verification codes. Always do your transactions within the app. 

Bad Check Scam

This method is similar to the Overpayment Scam. It’s when the scammer sends you a bad check. The amount in the check is typically larger than the price you asked for. You’d have to refund the excess amount. After returning the “extra money” and paying for the check fee, you’ll soon discover that that check will bounce with no owner.

If you have the scammer’s phone number, name, address, or any other information, tracking them down is not impossible. Plenty of reliable people search websites and services are accessible online. 

Shipping Scam

The shipping scam in OfferUp centers on demanding a refund

The Shipping Scam happens for the seller when a bogus buyer sets up a fake delivery address and claims a shipped item never arrived. Afterward, they demand a full refund. 

The scam is enacted for the buyer when the seller asks them to pay for an item upfront and cover the shipping but never sends it.

In 2021, TransUnion reported a surge in shipping fraud, leading to a 780.5% year-over-year increase globally. TransUnion’s data show that between 2019 and 2021, shipping fraud increased by more than a whopping 1,500%.

To be safe, stay in the app so that OfferUp can moderate your transactions, giving you a chance to get your money back. The app calculates shipping costs based on the product's size, weight, and dimensions. This way, requests for special shipping services or invoices are avoided to protect the buyer and seller.

Empty Box Scam

Receiving empty boxes from reputable marketplaces may seem unbelievable, but they happen.

Empty Box Scams occur when victim buyers receive empty packages from malicious sellers. The scammers usually list expensive items in their boxes or call them “Mystery Boxes” worth thousands of dollars.

One of OfferUp’s major flaws is that there is no guarantee that you’ll receive your item, even if the seller sent you a photo before shipping your package. 

However, there is a guarantee that you’ll be protected if you have proof that the seller intends to send you zero contents inside the package. It would still be tricky to prove that you’ve been duped with just a plain box as evidence.

⚠️ Warning:

The empty box scam can fool sellers as well. Like the Shipping Scam, fraudsters pose as buyers, but instead of saying that the product was never shipped, they raise fake empty box complaints. They’d also demand replacements without being asked.

Counterfeit Product Scam

In this scam, as old as time, the fraudster advertises an item. It claims its legitimacy through photos, logos, reviews, and specs. But when the buyer receives the item, they’ll realize it’s a counterfeit.

The only way to avoid getting scammed by fake products is to meet the seller in person–– that’s before buying anything. 

Do your research. Check the item during the meetup. Examine if there are grammatical errors on the packaging. Bring an old authentic product with you for comparison or borrow it from someone.

Protecting Yourself From OfferUp Scams

Scams are on the rise. As of 2022, global cyberattacks have increased by 38% compared to 2021. Fraud incidents make up a huge chunk of those figures. According to the Consumer Sentinel Network, there have been 2.4 million fraud reports in the same year, which led to $8.8 billion in losses.

Scams result in heavy losses on your finances and mental health, but there are plenty of ways to protect yourself. Here’s what you should do:

  • As much as possible, buy what is within or near your area to avoid shipping risks.
  • Meet the seller in person to see the item first-hand.
  • Never meet someone in a private area like a hotel; only through the Community Meetup Spots organized by the platform for your safety.
  • Buy and pay only through the app, so your transactions are traceable.
  • Don't give personal information to avoid identity theft.
  • Pay attention to buyer reviews to gauge whether a seller is legit.

Safety is costly. It's best to protect yourself through the securities OfferUp has so you can walk away from the purchase unscathed.

💡 Did You Know?

Like OfferUp, Facebook also has its share of scammers. Fraudsters have targeted 1 out of 6 users on Facebook Marketplace. They approach those users using fake accounts.

Wrapping Up

Regardless of age, users should learn how scams work to prevent them. OfferUp and other online marketplaces provide protection plans for their sellers and buyers. Using this and every other available security tool on your next transactions would be best. 


Can I trust OfferUp as a seller?

Definitely! Sellers are protected by the company’s policies and partnerships, as well as their fraud detection, machine learning, automation, and data models.

Can I access OfferUp through a desktop or laptop?

Yes, OfferUp's website is accessible on all devices.

What does OfferUp do if you get scammed?

The company will issue a refund up to the original prices, including shipping fees, through payment.


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