Since its launch, Facebook Marketplace has become a great forum for South Africans to trade all manner of new and second-hand goods.
You can buy anything from a queen-size bed to a PlayStation 4 from other Facebook users, and the platform even allows for the listing of vehicles.
Using the Marketplace is made easier and safer by interacting directly with other Facebook users, so you can tell from the start who you are dealing with and make a better-informed judgement on whether they are trustworthy.
Like any other classifieds site, however, Facebook Marketplace has the potential to be exploited by con artists looking to sell fake or nonexistent goods.
It has always been the task of the buyer to critically examine the seller’s posting for signs of dishonesty and determine whether they are willing to engage with the seller.
However, the sheer number of fake smartphones being sold on Facebook Marketplace makes it difficult to filter them out from the real listings.
“Korean High Copies”
If you are interested in purchasing a second-hand version of a new Huawei or Samsung smartphone through Facebook Marketplace, prepare to navigate a wilderness of blatantly-fake, “generic version”, and “Korean copy” smartphones.
These devices are usually listed at much lower prices than their real counterparts to seem more attractive to buyers.
In some cases, the seller attempts to pass off the smartphone as the real device, while in others they admit the device is a fake version.
A number of the listings we saw on the Marketplace were very cheap fakes with the telltale spelling errors in their branding and major design differences.
Devices labelled “Korean High Copy” proved to be more convincing, as their quality was substantially higher than other counterfeit smartphones.
In many cases, these fake devices copied the rounded chassis, camera layouts, and premium colours of their real counterparts – making it more difficult for buyers to determine the difference.
The “Korean High Copy” version of the Huawei P30 Pro even has an identical quad-camera layout, with a square drawn around the bottom camera in an attempt to mimic the telescopic lens on the original.
These fake smartphones are still usually easy to spot due to their lower prices and apparent design differences when you compare them side-by-side with the real versions, but they are prolific on the Facebook Marketplace platform.
They also seem to run unofficial versions of the Android operating system which have been set up to list the name of the real device in an attempt to seem more convincing.
Fake versions of the Huawei P30 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S10+, Galaxy A9, and Galaxy A70 are extremely common on Marketplace, and Facebook users should be wary when attempting to purchase these devices.
Below are some screenshots of the fake smartphones listed for sale on Facebook Marketplace.