Fraud rife on secondhand marketplaces Depop, Preloved, and Shpock

Consumers have been encouraged to be vigilant when shopping online after research showed fraud was rife on secondhand marketplaces, with Depop, Shpock and Preloved named the worst sites, and problems also discovered with industry giants Amazon and eBay.

A survey of 1,300 buyers by Which?, the consumer champion, found that 32% had been scammed on a secondhand marketplace in the two years to January. The most common ruse involved consumers receiving incorrect goods or nothing at all, while others were delivered an empty package or counterfeit goods.

The survey comes as an international investigation by the Guardian, Die Zeit and Le Monde shines a light on the scale of authorised push payment (APP) fraud, where victims are duped into making online transfers to a fraudster. It revealed how a vast web of fake shops touting designer brands took money and personal details from consumers who received no items.

Purchase scams are the most common form of APP fraud. In the first six months of 2023 alone there were 77,000 cases, equivalent to 66% of the total, reported to banks with £41m lost, according to UK Finance figures.

Buyers were most likely to be scammed on Depop, the study found, with 57% telling Which? they had experienced a scam on the site. This compares with 53% for Shpock and 51% for Preloved and Nextdoor. The figure for Amazon Marketplace was 35%, while for Gumtree and eBay it was 29%. The number for Facebook and Vinted was 24% and 22%, respectively.

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said that, while buying secondhand can save money, the survey’s findings were “worrying”. “It’s important that people properly check the seller’s reviews and profile,” she said, adding that marketplaces need to have proper checks in place and ensure that scam profiles are removed quickly.

However, fraud is not a one-sided affair. Which? questioned 1,400 sellers and 22% of them reported being scammed over the same two-year period. They were most likely to encounter potential fraudsters on Nextdoor, at 39%, followed by 26% for Preloved and Shpock, and Depop on 23%. The figure sat at about 20% for Amazon Marketplace, Facebook and eBay, while on Gumtree and Vinted it was 16% and 11%, respectively.

In response to the report, Depop said it offered protection for buyers and sellers and was investing in new technology. “We strongly encourage consumers who are buying and selling anywhere online never to share personal information with other users, to be very wary about following links to other sites, and to report any suspicious behaviour via in-app reporting systems.”

Vinted said that, as customer-to-customer online platforms become more popular, the “risk of these platforms being targeted by scammers also increases”. Its security measures are regularly checked and improved upon and new tools for secure transactions on the platform are always in development, it said.

Nextdoor said that it took reports of fraudulent and scam behaviour seriously and prided itself on offering a “safe place” for neighbours to buy, sell and give away items in their local community.

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However, some companies were critical of the research. Amazon described it as “deeply flawed” and said it did not reflect its own data. “We take these issues incredibly seriously. If a product doesn’t arrive or isn’t as advertised we will fully refund the order,” it said.

The research was “not an accurate reflection of the scale of the issue”, according to eBay, which also said it took scams seriously. “Ebay remains a safe way for people to find anything from pre-loved fashion to unique collectibles,” it said.


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