New scam: Exposes a common trick used by scammers to get money on the Facebook marketplace


When Alexandra Duffin wanted to sell her laptop on the Facebook marketplace, common messages popped up.

“Is the sale still there?”

The 29-year-old replied yes, but informed the potential buyer that she had lost the charger for her laptop.

“She said, ‘It’s okay, where’s your pickup point? ‘”

The two arranged to meet at a local restaurant to make the deal. The buyer told her she couldn’t come in person, but would send a sibling and wanted to pay with PayID.

 

A PayID is a proprietary piece of information, such as a mobile phone number or Australian Business Number (ABN), that people can use to accept payments.

When the buyer wanted her to set up a PayID account, Duffin wasn’t suspicious at first, she was surprised.

“She said ‘I’m paying through my home business account and I need the seller’s email address to confirm the payment’.”

“She sent me a screenshot showing me how to enter my email address. It looks legitimate.”

Ms. Duffin gave her email address to the buyer, who sent back what appeared to be a bank statement with Ms. Duffin’s name and a transfer of the purchase amount. The appearance of “different payments” in the same screenshot raised the Melbourne woman’s suspicions.

Another thing that raised alarms was that the buyers said they would pay more than Duffin was asking for.

“She said, ‘I’ll send you another $500 and a total of $1,200 will be transferred into your account immediately.’” Then when you receive it, you have to give me back 500 yuan. ‘”

Duffin, who is an Internet celebrity, said she then received an email with a screenshot confirming the $500 was in her account. The buyer then demanded a refund.

She said: “After I looked at the email, it appeared to be from a Gmail account. I realized it was a scam.”

“We all know big companies don’t use Gmail.”

“I said ‘Shame on you’. She (the buyer) immediately left the group. I’ve blocked her.”

Many others have reported similar cases of people using PayID to scam vendors on social media networks’ classifieds sections and online classifieds marketplace Gumtree.

How does the PayID scam work?

Heritage Bank issued an alert to customers last week, warning them about how the scam works.

 

Banks said unscrupulous buyers told suppliers that they could not meet in person, and that instead their relatives or friends would handle the transaction.

“The scammer then sends a fake PayID email to the seller,” the bank said.

“The fake email said there was a problem receiving payments due to PayID restrictions on non-commercial accounts.”

“Sellers have to transfer money first to increase their PayID limit so they can receive payment. Once this is done, they can receive a refund and payment from the buyer.”

“Instead, unsuspecting sellers are duped into paying money to scammers.”

How can I protect myself from scams

The Australian Consumer watchdog says the key to avoiding fraud is to communicate and transact on a secure platform.

Speaking to SBS News, a spokesperson for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said: “Many people have reported being scammed out of money after negotiating purchase deals via email with scammers on online marketplaces.”

 

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Scammers often demand payment methods such as prepaid gift cards, bank or international fund transfers, and cryptocurrencies, making it more difficult to recover funds. Use PayPal or a credit card, the spokesperson said.

He also warned to be wary of very low prices, often lower than similar or identical items on other websites.

“Don’t rush into a deal and think about whether the deal is too good,” the spokesman said.

What should I do if I am cheated?

If you feel you have been scammed, the ACCC recommends contacting your bank or financial institution as soon as possible.

 

It also recommends contacting the platform where you were scammed and informing them about the scam. “Tell your friends and family it helps to share your experience, they can be supportive and you can help them avoid being scammed,” an ACCC spokesman said.

More than 10,000 scams were reported in 2022, with more than $8 million lost in Australia alone.

As for Ms. Duffin, she said she was shocked by her experience.

“When I want to sell something, knowing that there are people like that out there, where else can I sell?”

Duffin said she also received offers from other Facebook users to buy laptops, but she did not respond.


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