Legitimate sellers unsuspecting sellers out of thousands | #datingscams | #lovescams | #facebookscams

By Max Aitchison For Daily Mail Australia

07:58 06 Apr 2023, updated 08:20 06 Apr 2023

  • Sellers of secondhand goods tricked by ruthless scammers 
  • Accounts appear legitimate and ask to buy through PayID
  • But they send a fake email requesting the transfer of funds 
  • Have YOU been scammed? email: max.aitchison@mailonline.com 

Facebook Marketplace has turned into an impossible beast to tame as scammers increasingly flood the platform to try and fleece unwitting Australians out of thousands of dollars – and their methods are getting more and more dangerous.

There has been a recent explosion in the nefarious practices, with figures showing a nearly 90 per cent increase in the amount of money lost to the swindles compared to this time last year. 

The scams, which often come from legitimate accounts that have been hacked or compromised, target people trying to sell secondhand goods on the popular site.

Fraudsters almost always follow the same playbook: they ask the seller if the item is still available before agreeing on a price and saying a close relative can pick it up in the next 24 hours. 

An unsuspecting Facebook Marketplace user is approached by a scammer using a legitimate-seeming account
The fraudster asks to use PayID before going quiet when the seller says they only accept cash

They then ask if they can secure the item using PayID – a legitimate and free instant payment method that uses a person’s phone, email or ABN to send and receive money.

However, the scammers then send a fake PayID email to the seller, which will claim there is an issue receiving the payment because of a monetary limit on their non-business PayID account. 

To fix the issue, the email will ask the seller to send the buyer money, which they promise to later reimburse – but never do. 

In February alone, Australians lost more than $1million to these types of scams.

That represents an 85 per cent rise on the same figure in February 2022, according to data compiled by Scamwatch. 

Across the whole of 2022, a total of $8.5million was lost to these or similar ‘classified’ scams. 

But Dr Leonie Simpson, associate professor at Queensland University of Technology, said there was ‘massive underreporting’ and the figures were likely to be far higher.   

‘It’s a real thing. Lots of cyber crime is escalating and the criminals are very organised – it’s a way to make money,’ she told Daily Mail Australia. 

‘They will have a playbook for how to approach victims.’ 

Dr Leonie Simpson, associate professor at Queensland University of Technology, said there was ‘massive underreporting’ on Facebook scams

Olivia Kate, 28, who lives in Bronte, Sydney, was attempting to sell a mattress on Facebook Marketplace this week.

Within minutes of posting the item, she was asked by ‘Alan’ if it was still available and they then agreed a price.

‘It felt almost too good to be true and yet I was more trusting because the account looked really legitimate,’ she said.

‘He had lots of friends, a nice profile picture with his wife or partner – it wasn’t an obviously fake account.’

Delighted with the opportunity for a quick sale, she made arrangements for him to come and pick it up.

‘But as soon as he asked to buy with PayID I knew something was wrong,’ she said.

‘I said I would only accept cash and made up an excuse about being burned before. Surprise, surprise, he did not respond.’  

Her suspicion was vindicated when a further 10 people got in touch using the exact same gambit: asking if it was still available, agreeing a price and then saying a relative or close friend could pick it up the following day after they had paid through PayID.

‘As soon as I said I’d only accept cash they all went quiet on me,’ she said.  

‘I was fortunate but I can easily see how people can fall prey to these scammers.’ 

Social media is awash with stories of close calls with sophisticated scammers

Dr Simpson, an information security expert, warned that some of the accounts being used might have been hacked or compromised.

‘The account might be legitimate but it’s been taken over by a criminal,’ she said. 

“The person whose account it is may also be a victim of hacking. 

‘It’s a horrible situation and it’s awful to think that there are people making a living by ripping off other people – that’s the reality.’

Dr Simpson said the scams were very sophisticated and victims should not feel shame for being duped.

‘You are focused on the task. You want to buy or sell something and you are thinking – as an honest person does – just about the transaction,’ she said.

‘Whereas the person you are dealing with has a completely different agenda: they are going to do and say whatevere they need to get you on the hook to get what they want from you. It could be money or information.’

‘We don’t need to blame the victims – they have been scammed. We need to put the blame on the criminals.’

One woman revealed fraudsters had attempted to redirect her pension after stealing her personal information

But Dr Simpson said it was notoriously difficult for police to crackdown on the scammers. 

‘They could be anywhere. This is a global problem whereas law enforcement is quite local so it takes a lot of coordination to get anything done,’ she said.

She encouraged victims to report it to contact their bank and to report their experience on the Scamwatch website.  

A cursory search on social media reveals a deluge of people who have been preyed on with PayID scams. 

Tanya Maiden posted on Facebook on Thursday that she had been tricked into accepting a fake PayID request – and the scammers had tried to steal her pension.  

‘Just wanted to warn people anyone that has stuff for sale on FB please be very careful make sure you check out the profile and DO NOT accept pay ID!’, she wrote.

‘I’ve been scammed they got into MyGov a changed everything trying to steal my Pension.’

In February, Victoria Police warned police about a dramatic rise in these scams. 

Hundreds of people commented under the post sharing their experiences of the fraud. 

‘I almost got caught with this exact scam this week. I was so annoyed at myself giving my email address- but quickly worked out something was amiss and reported/blocked,’ wrote one woman. 

Dr Leonie Simpson, associate professor at Queensland University of Technology, said many of the scammers followed the same ‘playbook’
They often agree a price, claim a family member will pick it up and then ask to secure the purchase on PayID

Last week, National Australia Bank (NAB) warned customers they had seen a dramatic rise in these types of cons.

NAB Executive Group Executive and Fraud Chris Sheehan said PayID deception was the latest impersonation scam and the true number of scams impacting the community was expected to be higher given many aren’t reported.

‘No one wants to try to sell their old couch, fridge, phone or pram and it inadvertently ends up costing them. Unfortunately, that’s what’s happening more and more when people try to sell items online,’ he said.

‘Just as online marketplaces have replaced garage sales as the go-to option to sell second-hand items, the way we make and receive payments is also changing.

‘PayID is a relatively new payment method and is quick, safe and simple. It is also free – and the biggest red flag of any PayID-related scam is often if someone asks you for money to upgrade an account or to access PayID. There are never any charges related to using PayID.

‘It is also important to remember PayID will never send you an email, text or message directly. If you receive one of these, it is a scam.

‘Cyber criminals are sophisticated and we’re unfortunately now seeing them try to exploit PayID given, on the whole, it isn’t as familiar to the community as other ways to send and receive money.’

Daily Mail Australia approached Meta, Facebook’s parent company, for comment.


Whatever it is you’re selling, be careful when using online marketplaces and transferring funds electronically. There is a scam doing the rounds that goes a little something like this:

1. The scammer messages the seller and after the usual, ‘Is this available?’ and the price is agreed on, the scammer will say that they’re unable to collect the item in person but a relative or friend can.

2. The scammer will request to send the money using PayID, and will ask for the seller’s personal details – usually an email address.

3. They’ll then send a fake PayID email to the seller saying there was an issue receiving the payment because of a monetary limit on their non-business PayID account. To fix the issue, the email will ask the seller to send the buyer money which will later be reimbursed (but never is).

  • When selling or buying items using online marketplaces remember:
  • PayID is a legitimate service to transfer money, but PayID would never contact you directly requesting financial or personal information. 
  • Be wary of requests for additional payment – you should never have to send money to receive payment. 
  • Block and report those who are attempting to scam you. 
  • Do not send funds to potential scammers.
  • When meeting up to handover goods, always inspect the item before providing money.
  • Sometimes offers are ‘Too good to be true’. It always pays to be cautious.

 Source: Victoria Police

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