Facebook bans Marketplace scammers after News 6 investigation

Orlando woman loses $200 in alleged Apple Watch scheme then gets refund

By Mike Holfeld - Investigative Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - The search for a used Apple Watch on Facebook Marketplace turned into a lesson in social media scammers for one Orlando woman after the seller took her money and failed to ship the item. 

Tammy Oniki, a mother of two, said she wanted to find a 38mm rose-tone watch for her daughter’s 11th birthday.

She posted a $200 price target on Facebook Marketplace and received a response just minutes after the post was on the site.

“I trusted the site, I trusted the girl, I even looked at her profile and her sister’s profile to make sure they looked like good honest people,” Oniki said.

The woman offering the Apple Watch, identified as Alexandrea Nicole on her Facebook profile, asked Oniki to send the funds to her sister’s Facebook for payment.

Oniki said she opened up an account and made the payment to an account held by Alisha Raylynn Clay, identified as Alexandrea’s sister.

News 6 checked the two Facebook profile pages and they appeared to be legitimate, complete with photos of the two women, husbands and young children.

Oniki said after she sent the funds, Alexandrea Nicole promised to provide a tracking number.

At first, she claimed her child had the flu and said she would send the watch very soon, but that never happened.

After a few days, Oniki contacted Clay, who claimed that other than providing the account, “I have nothing to do with either of you.”

Oniki contacted Facebook, and she was told there was nothing that could be done.

A company representative suggested calling local police to report the incident.

Oniki called News 6 and we investigated the Facebook Payment policy, which included this:
1.    By using Facebook Payments, you acknowledge and agree that we may make any inquiries that we consider necessary, either directly or through third parties, concerning your identity and creditworthiness.

We worked with Facebook’s Marketplace team and after further investigation, Facebook issued Oniki a full refund.

Facebook officials said in a statement:

“Making sure people have a positive and safe experience on Facebook is our top priority. The sellers reported were in violation of our Commerce Policies, and we have since disabled their accounts and issued Tammy a full refund. Before completing a purchase, we encourage everyone to follow our safety tips, including verifying the item in-person and in a safe location.”

The company encourages the Marketplace community to report buyers or sellers who aren't acting in good faith.

Facebook has a “Report Item” option on every product profile.

Anyone using payments in Messenger can access the Payments terms, as well as direct customer support channels if they have issues, by clicking here.

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