The Zelle Scam and How it Could Affect Your Side Hustle

It is undeniable that Facebook Marketplace is one of the best ways to eliminate items you no longer need. It is possible to generate extra money through the marketplace to purchase extras such as vacations, new furniture, or a fun night out with friends. A scam alert has recently been issued by the Better Business Bureau for those who sell their products on Facebook Marketplace. Facebook Marketplace users should beware of Zelle scams where fraudulent buyers attempt to purchase big-ticket items using Zelle, the popular peer-to-peer lending app. Some people refer to this scam as the Zelle business account scam.

What Is Zelle?

With Zelle, users can quickly transfer money between banks in a matter of minutes. The app requires only the recipient’s email address or phone number to send money. This scam is being set up using an email address belonging to a seller.

Zelle Business Account Scam: How Does It Work?

Marketplace sellers who have listed big-ticket items worth several hundred dollars are targeted by the scam.

Buyers contact sellers to request to buy items and pay using Zelle. When the seller agrees, the buyer asks for the seller’s email address so that the payment can be sent. However, the buyer does not send payment.

A fake Zelle email is sent instead by the buyer to the seller. The seller must upgrade to a Zelle business account to receive payment – for a fee of a few hundred dollars – according to the email.

To make things easier, the buyer contacts the seller directly, claiming they received the same email from Zelle and sent the seller enough money to cover the purchase and upgrade fee. They then ask the seller to reimburse them for the upgrade fee. They provide fake screenshots and documentation as proof of payment in order to persuade the seller to issue the refund without verifying the receipt of payment.

According to the BBB alert, Zelle scams target Facebook Marketplace, but scammers can also use Venmo, CashApp, and other peer-to-peer lending apps.

Here are a few helpful hints to recognize this scam and others:

  • Do not be fooled by promises of fast payment or quick responses.
  • Just because something looks professionally written doesn’t mean it is. 
  • Urgency is almost always a red flag.
  • You will never receive an email from Zelle regarding Facebook Marketplace.


Watch for red flags and verify emails and payments to avoid Zelle scams on Facebook Marketplace. In this case, Zelle can easily verify whether a seller’s account upgrade request is legitimate. Furthermore, sellers should never refund payments without verifying that they have actually posted to their accounts.