BBB: Instagram sneaker sales may be a scam

Sneakers transactions that originated on social media are becoming more commonplace ( with too many of them winding up in our Stupid Things People Do For Sneakers segment), however, according to the Better Business Bureau, be cautious if you using Instagram as your marketplace. According to a report from the Bureau , their scam tracker has seen an increase in the reports of buyers who say they paid hundreds of dollars rare and other high-value sneakers but never received them.

According to the BBB, here is how the scam works:

You are scrolling through your Instagram feed when a post or sponsored ad pops up. It’s a pair of sneakers you would love to add to your collection. Lucky you, the shoes in the photo are for sale.

The account is run by someone who collects and resells sneakers, and it seems legitimate. The seller has great photos and a lot of followers. To buy the sneakers, all you need to do is send a direct message. After some back and forth with the seller, who sends you enough pictures of the shoes to convince you they are real, you are asked to make a payment using CashApp, Venmo, or another online form of payment.

You make the payment and wait for your new sneakers to be delivered. Days turn into weeks, and the shoes never arrive. When you contact the seller, they may promise you a refund, which never materializes. One consumer reported that after several attempts to get a refund, “the merchant blocked me on social media where I originally contacted him and he also blocked my number, making me unable to call him or any [of his] associates.”

The BBB offers these tips for avoiding these types of scams on social media:

  • BBB Research the seller. Read the comments and reviews of other consumers on the seller’s social media accounts and website, and on If other buyers make negative comments or report not receiving merchandise they paid for, steer clear. Review the seller’s website carefully to make sure it is secure and legitimate before making a purchase. If they say they are an authorized reseller, verify that claim.
  • Use a safe payment method. Apps like Venmo, Facebook Pay, CashApp, and the like may seem like convenient ways to pay, but this kind of app was designed to allow friends, family members, and coworkers to send each other money. BBB advises against using payment apps with strangers; instead, use a credit card.
  • Don’t be pressured to make a quick purchase. Many scammers try to pressure you to buy, even if the deal doesn’t quite feel right. They may claim “this is the last pair of sneakers they have in stock” or “it’s a deal that won’t last long because the sneakers are a collectible pair worth much more than the selling price.” Never purchase under pressure. Do your research first, then buy.

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