Social Media Scams and the Quarantine


During this pandemic we have all been spending more time in our homes than we did previously. As we remain at home, more people are relying on online platforms to purchase items directly from other people or sell items directly to other people. While the internet has become much more secure than it once was, this influx of use for purchases and sales brings with it the increased risk of being taken advantage of by someone through the internet.

Always be aware of who you are buying from and what platform you are on. Large platforms such as eBay, Amazon, and Mercari have policies in place aimed at preventing the purchaser from being taken advantage of. As a purchaser, it is important to be aware of different platforms’ policies, as they can have wrinkles in them that you would not expect. For example, on Mercari, once feedback has been left, the sale is final and you can no longer return the item for which you left feedback. The benefit of purchasing on these larger platforms is that they will protect you, as the consumer. If a purchase is made outside of a large platform, including sending money to a seller through an app, it will be more likely that you will either not receive the product you paid for or the product you do receive differs greatly from what was promised.

If you are selling something online and you are not familiar with typical procedures or you are a first-time online seller, be sure to read the policies of the platform you are selling on and always be cautious. A scam artist and a legitimate consumer can seem very similar. For example, if a consumer returns an item that you sold them and then claims that they did not receive a refund—but your bank shows that they did—then our general advice is to trust your bank. If you sell on a large platform, that platform should be the intermediary through which you proceed with payments. If you make a personal transaction outside of a large online platform, save every message and document regarding the transaction, so that if something unexpected occurs, you have a record of communication.

If you have been taken advantage of in an online transaction, there may be legal options available to you. Depending on the facts of your case, there may be criminal or civil claims that could be brought.

If you believe that you have been the victim of an internet scam, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at or 804-423-1382 to set up an initial consultation with one of our attorneys to discuss the possibility of a legal remedy.