Beware of the Facebook Marketplace PayID scam

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I've worked in tech for the majority of my career, and as such, I've long considered myself to be impervious to online scams. In my eyes, scams only happened to people who weren't all that tech-savvy—people who didn't grow up in the era of Nigerian Princes bequeathing their fortune via email.

So colour me surprised when, just last night, I experienced my first-ever (attempted) online scam.

I had listed a dining table on Facebook Marketplace, and almost immediately had two people message me with their interest.

Each conversation started out like any other interaction on Marketplace: they asked if it was available, I said yes, they asked where it was located (despite the suburb being very prominent in the listing—classic Marketplace), I told them.

The one to whom I ultimately decided to "sell" the table seemed legit. A normal profile, some questions about how long I'd had the table, confirmation that it was pickup only and not delivery... no red flags were raised.

We discussed pickup time and they offered to pay via PayID. I'll admit, I haven't used PayID much in the past. Especially when it comes to Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree, I've always been a cash-on-pickup or PayPal kind of gal.

Still, I knew the gist—give them your phone number or email address, get paid. I gave them my phone number, which should've been enough, but they asked for my full name and email address as well. I thought that was a tiny bit sus, but figured maybe their bank had extra fields to ensure the payment went to the right person.

It wasn't until they replied, asking me to check my inbox for a confirmation email that I immediately clocked what was going on.

The email came from the very legit-sounding "payidaudbanktransfer10@gmail.com", stating that I had received the payment from the buyer but that there was a problem. Apparently, I needed a "PayID business account" to receive the oh-so hefty sum of $100, as it was ✨ above my account limit.

The email then told me that, to rectify this little problem, I need only send $300 (yes, three times the price of my crappy IKEA dining table) to the buyer to "expand" my limit.

Is the logic in the room with us?

Obviously I didn't click anything in the email, reported the "buyer" to Facebook and sent them a swear-laden message before blocking them. They didn't get any money from me, but they do have my full name, email address and phone number which is, at the very least, annoying.

Since that transaction was obviously a bust, I decided to give buyer #2 a shot. When I reread their message, however, I realised it was almost exactly the same as buyer #1's message (including the mention of a cousin or brother who would pick up the item), so a swift block it was. Fool me once.

I know that this scam is likely common knowledge to regular Marketplace users (a cursory Reddit search tells me as much), but for less frequent users like myself, be on the lookout.

Georgia Dixon
Written by
Georgia Dixon
Georgia Dixon has 10 years of experience writing about all things tech, entertainment and lifestyle. She has bylines on Reviews.org, 7NEWS, Stuff.co.nz, in TechLife magazine and more. In 2023 she won Best News Writer at the Consensus IT Awards, and in 2024 she was a finalist for Best News Journalist at the Samsung IT Journalism Awards (The Lizzies). In her spare time, you'll find her playing games and daydreaming about good food, wine, and dogs.

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