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One in three buyers scammed on second-hand sites

scam That is awful quality of order. Concerned and upset woman client customer of internet shop received defective goods, feeling bad nervous thinking about complaint demanding money refund
Scammed buyers received incorrect goods or no goods at all. (brizmaker via Getty Images)

A third of buyers have experienced a scam on popular second-hand marketplaces in the last two years, with Depop being the most complained about by customers who experienced fraudsters.

Buyers reported receiving incorrect goods (15%) or no goods at all (15%), according to a survey by Which?. Others said they had received an empty package (11%) or counterfeit goods (10%).

According to the latest UK Finance data, purchase scams were the most common form of authorised push payment fraud, accounting for 66% of all cases reported to banks – with 76,946 cases and £40.9m lost to these scams in the first half of 2023.

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Depop buyers were most likely to experience a scam – with nearly six in 10 surveyed (57%) telling Which? they had experienced a scam on the site. This compares to around half of Shpock (53%), Preloved (51%), and Nextdoor (51%) buyers surveyed, around a third of Amazon Marketplace (35%), Gumtree (29%) and eBay (29%) purchasers surveyed, a quarter (24%) of Facebook marketplace purchasers surveyed and a fifth of Vinted (22%) buyers surveyed who had experienced a scam in the two years to January 2024.

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When selling an item, Nextdoor sellers were most likely to say they had encountered potential fraudsters – with four in 10 (39%) of those surveyed saying had experienced a scam in the previous two years.

Around a quarter of those selling on Preloved (26%), Shpock (26%) and Depop (23%), a fifth of those selling on Amazon Marketplace (21%), Facebook (20%) and eBay (20%), one in six (16%) of Gumtree sellers and one in 10 (11%) of Vinted sellers surveyed also said they had experienced a scam in the two years to January 2024.

Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said: “Second-hand marketplaces can be a great way to save money and shop in a more sustainable way so it's worrying that a third of buyers have experienced a scam in the last two years.

“When buying and selling second-hand goods online, it’s important that people properly check the seller’s reviews and profile – especially if they are on the hunt for expensive goods.

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“However, the responsibility should not fall wholly on consumers to protect themselves from scammers. Second-hand marketplaces need to ensure there are proper checks in place to prevent scammers from advertising in the first place and that any scam profiles are quickly removed.”

A significant number of buyers and sellers also told Which? they had raised complaints about their transactions with the marketplaces.

Watch: Don't Waste Your Money: Top online scams

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