I consider myself a fairly scam aware guy. Normally if I’m not sure of a certain payment method, I just look it up and see if there are any prior stories. I’ve sold a lot of stuff. I thought I was safe, but of course I apparently screwed up.
I listed an expensive item on Facebook Marketplace for about $2000. I had someone message me about it, asking if he could pay via PayPal F&F and asked for my e-mail address. I initially said I would accept F&F, but after reading the ToS and reading about chargeback scams, I figured I’d be safe and go with Goods and Services. I let him know this, and he was fine with that. We agreed on a meetup place and time (a public place). He then sent payment immediately, with a random emoji in the description. He also had his address included, which is where my screw up apparently started, but I didn’t realize at the time. I was suspicious, so I did some investigating, and see that someone had called him a “scammer.” I asked him about this, but he fed me some story about a buyer being unhappy with the a sale because of the payment method, which was likely a false story. I wasn’t really comfortable continuing with the transaction, and would’ve cancelled and refunded him. The problem is, with PayPal’s recent changes, if you want to refund a customer a Goods and Services transaction, you have to pay the 2.9% cut that PayPal takes. So as uncomfortable with the transaction as I was, I decided to go through with it because I didn’t want to be out $60. I also definitely had the money in my account, and it wasn’t some sort of fake PayPal e-mail scam. I chose to record the entire transaction so I’d have proof of delivery if he tried anything with PayPal, and I had seller protection from PayPal to protect me.
I meet up with the guy at the agreed time and place. I’m taking proper COVID precautions, wearing a mask and using sanitizer, but he’s not wearing a mask. I know I should’ve insisted he put one on, but I was honestly relieved, because if he was trying to steal from me or pull a scam, he’d be wearing a mask, right? Perfect way to hide your identity, and I’m recording the entire transaction. I give him the product, and have him give me a call to make sure he’s the same person I was talking to on FB marketplace. We part ways. Immediately afterwards, as I try to confirm the sale with him via Facebook Marketplace, I see that he’s blocked me.
I’m now extremely nervous, and I contact PayPal repeatedly, asking them what I should be doing to make sure that my money is safe, and they never give me a proper response. 3 days later, the transaction is in dispute because he filed a chargeback, and I can’t access the money. I upload exactly what happened, along with chats and texts we sent, along with the video I took of the transaction. After several fruitless phone calls and chats, a month later, this morning I’m told that the money has been removed from my PayPal account because I didn’t provide proof of shipment. I filed a police report shortly after I was hit by the chargeback, but didn’t pursue it aggressively because it was still in dispute. At this point, I’m not really sure what to do.
As for others making local transactions? I’d avoid PayPal entirely, even though Facebook themselves recommend it. Just use Zelle, or plain old hard, cold cash. Have the buyer look at the item in person If you need to use PayPal don’t give your e-mail address, and don’t accept it like I did. Get their e-mail and send an invoice via PayPal, although I’m still not even sure that you’ll be protected even then. I know I technically screwed up, but what PayPal did felt very predatory to keep their fees and not provide protection.
EDIT: PayPal Friends & Family has even less protection. If the buyer files a chargeback like you have here, you have no chance at seller protection; you just lose the money.