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Online sellers stung by scammers spoofing PayPal brand

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Selling your used stuff online has become commonplace. So have scams taking advantage of the good names of reputable online companies. At the FTC, we’ve heard from people stung by scammers spoofing PayPal. The scam generally goes like this: You post a high-value item, like a used car, for sale online. In no time at all, you get an email from a buyer willing to pay full price — or more! But he sets conditions; he is only willing to pay by PayPal or insists the sale must happen right away. What’s really going on? A ruse to steal your personal information, money or merchandise.

Here are some suspicious situations to look for and steps to safe selling online:

Scenario One: The buyer claims he can only pay via PayPal. Don’t have a PayPal account? No problem, he says. He’ll send you an email with a link so you can set one up.

What should you do? Don’t take the bait. The link will send you to a website masquerading as PayPal. Any information you enter will be collected by the bogus buyer, and may be used to commit fraud. If you need to set up an account, go directly to PayPal.com.

Scenario Two: “Check your email!” The buyer claims he has sent payment to your PayPal account with additional funds so you can ship the merchandise ASAP, but oops, he sent too much money. He asks you to return the extra money via a money wiring service. It’s all a lie, including the extra money the buyer says he included.

What should you do? Log into your PayPal account. Make sure you’ve been paid before you ship. Never follow links in emails from people you don’t know. The safest approach is to open a browser window, navigate to PayPal.com, and log in yourself. Also, if the buyer claims to have sent extra money, and asks for some back, that’s a big red flag.

Scenario Three: The buyer sends you real money through a real PayPal account, and you ship him the car. Problem is, the PayPal account belongs to someone else! You might need to return the money even though the scammer has your wheels.

What now? Contact PayPal and ask them to open an investigation. The company offers seller protections so you aren’t liable for unauthorized transactions. Also file a complaint with the FTC and your local police department.

Learn how to recognize and avoid common online scams. And contact PayPal at spoof@paypal.com if you’ve been stung by a PayPal spoof. The company wants to hear from you.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Comments

I got a similar one who claimed to work for a construction company in a remote area. He cannot make phone and cannot come to look at the furnitures I am selling. Only Paypal.

"Hi, My name is Justin. Am very interested, please send more general close up pictures because I won't be able come inspect it due to work location. I am currently working at a local area with Turner Const. which makes it very hard for me to make phone calls due to bad network reception. As for payment, I can only make the payment through PayPal if acceptable which I believe is the most secured for online transactions. I will send a freight agent for pickup at your preferred location once payment is confirmed and cleared. I have few questions;

Where do you live? What is your final asking price ? Does it have anything negative i should know about? Email back to know if my offer is accepted so that we can proceed, I hope to hear from you soon.

I believe PayPal is the best way to send money online and it is safe and secure, it is very easy to open an account with them and Kindly send me your PayPal money request or simply get back to me with the total cost of the item and your PayPal email ID so that i can proceed with the payment asap..And i want you to know that you are very much safe with them and also i the buyer as well."

A CBRN Specialist(74D) buying my dirt bike as a “birthday surprise gift” for his son, these guys are ruthless, he’s the fourth cbrn specialist to contact me in 3 daysXD

I got 1 even better today it was a text message. Beware his name is Rowland 347-667-1593 his email address is a woman's name @gmail. com & he was very insistant about me setting up a pay pal acctt to buy my camper. Was going to have a freight company come pick it up! He is out of Prescott, Arizona. I called Pay pal and this was a first for them.

Just listed a car this afternoon on Cars.com and received the email below within 2 hours!

​Thanks for your response. Please understand that I am not around for inspection due to the nature of my job, I serve in the U.S Army as a CAS(Civil Affairs Specialist (38B)) currently on active duty and it's been quite busy on the field these days with lots of restrictions, strictly no calls for security reasons but we have secure access to the internet as our major means of communication for OK with your asking price and if you don't mind, I can only pay through PayPal at the moment because it's the most secure way to make or receive payment online this is why I'll prefer using PayPal to pay you, all I need is your PayPal email to make the payment and if you don't have a PayPal account, it's pretty easy to set up at www. paypal. com. I have a few questions for you.

Are you the original owner? How long have you owned it? Whats its condition, any damages and what is your reason for selling? I hope you consider my offer. I am ready to buy. I'll arrange for pick up after you have confirmed and received payment. Thanks for understanding, hope to read from you soon.

Another scammer at (510) 254-7470. Claims" I am ready to purchase...I a Sgt in the US military, I am currently deployed...I won't be able to pick up but I will hire a shipper...I am comfortable paying via Paypal...let me have your Paypal details..." Watch out folks!

Got the same crook today, 1 hour after posting an ad on craigslist. same number 510-254-7470

Oh God! Something happens to me today, I’m selling a living Room Set vía Craigslist, two people text me about it, one of them actually said I’ll pay $100 extr if you save it for me, and when I ask to meet him/her in person didn’t have an answer, just stop texting. The other person said he/she was very busy at work and couldn’t see the set in person, and he/she asked me to open a pay pal account so the transaction can be done, I opened the account and send it my info, then didn’t received the money or something, I closed the account and I just waitiang to see what happens. :(

I got a PP scammerrrrrr asking me to pay with PP and send a courier to pick it up. I'm trying to find the IP in the email so I can locate this precious melissalincoln135 @gmail. com...

-------scam-----------

Thanks for getting back to me i have check the listing and am okay with the vehicle, also satisfied with your asking price.I really want this to be a surprise for my friend so i won't let him know anything about it until it gets delivered to him as i have a shipping agent that do pick up for me, i will take care of the shipment myself. I will be paying you through PayPal which is a fast, safe and reliable method of payment. kindly log in to your PayPal account and select the request money button located at the top of your PayPal account homepage and send the billing request directly to my PayPal account id which is martaflorecka007 @ gmail.com so i can submit payment to you via PayPal right now. Regards.

Just got exactly the same stuff today. Why there is nobody to stop those losers?

I’m in Canada on Vancouver Island and got a text from a guy wanting to purchase a band saw from me but it was to be shipped and paid via PayPal. I will send the texts he sent,
$250 · Delta Band Saw..I will like to know Why you are you selling it, Probably more pics
I cant make it there to check it,I will arrange a freight to come.Do you have PayPal account for the Get back to me with your Name and your PayPal email address for the payment?

Now here is where it gets really obvious this is a scam!

Is that all you have for sale?

I tell him to check my other ads online then he sends me these texts

Do you still have the $100 · French doors
$500 · Heavy duty rolling shelves, $350 · PAC tool snapper guillotine, $200 · Wood Stove
How much is the total?

I say the amount and notice out of about 30 ads he has picked out only the most expensive items that I ve posted!
Then he sends this. ..

I just sent the money now and the money has been deducted from my account,PayPal must have Notify you through Email,pls check your email box, or it may redirect to your Spam Box, check your Junk box as well...Thanks

I know he isn’t sending me any real money. What a jerk!

His number is ‭+1 (605) 836-9050‬

Would be interested to accept their deal... And have their courier pick up a matchbox car

Watch out for a guy trying to buy stuff from you through paypal and then wanting to ship your merch to Nigeria. The email he used was Larry Smith watch out his number is 650-300-8967

Yup! Just had larry hit me up for a PS4 to be sent to Nigeria today! WATCH OUT FOR THIS. SAME NUMBER (650-300-8967)

Beware
This from from Gerry. 862-227-8077
Good,thanks for your response.I want this shipped to my son IN Nevada,USA as a Birthday gift, i ill give you $1000 and $100 for shipping fee, And am sure this is real? Also do you have a PayPal account so i can pay you:)?

Paypal scam - URGENT

I think I'm being scammed .
I advertised a BRIDAL lehenga for sale at 14000. This lady is prepared to pay the full amount . Only through paypal . I have never used paypal before yet she insisted I downloaded it. I gave her my details. She wanted my address as she says she's not in state at the moment and wanted the item shipped to her. At first she was going to pay for her shipping .
Then she told me she's sending me a paypal with the cost of her shipping included , her pick up guy will contact me , setup a date for meeting and a way for me to transfer her shipping costs to them. Which I agreed to.

Upon her payment , I received numerous email from paypal telling me that the amount that the lady paid is on hold , it has been approved and transferred from her account but is on hold with them , and the only way the money will release into my account is if I send a money gram to her shipping guy all the way in dubai immediately ( amount of R5850,00)
, I then need to send them my details as well as proof of the payment , thereafter that money that she had transferred will be released into my account. They keep reassuring me that the money is safe will them and I will receive it once I've sent through the money . I have received numerous emails insisting on this . However , not only can I not afford to pay that R5850 , which I didn't even know I had to pay in the first place , I had no idea that I would be liable for this cost , and cannot understand how they can force me to pay it.

I've sent numerous emails back to them , telling them that I am unable to pay this amount , and to please refund the lady. However they insisting that they cannot give the lady her money back and they also cannot accept that I cannot pay this fee ( even though I'm not liable for me ). I told them to please reimburse her so that she can sort out her own shipping fees and only pay me the cost of my item for sale as I didn't want to get involved with all this and dnot understand why she needs a third party ( me) to handle all this for her , when she is more than capable of doing it herself. They insisted that they cannot return her money , and that I , according to their rules and regulations , am responsible and liable to pay that fee.

When I told them again I cannot do this , they then sent a email saying they are going to take legal action against me. They are suspending my account , they know my personal details and will be informing the FBI and interpol.

Please help me with this.
I don't understand how I can be forced to pay this , something I'm not liable for. How can they force a sale ? And is paypal allowed to make threats like this ?

Please contact me with how to handle the situation. As I feel like I should go to the police station with this.

This sounds like a scam. This person is trying to take your money and your personal information.

The email you received could be from a fake PayPal account. The scammer might use an email address that is similar to a PayPal address.

You may contact PayPal directly and ask them to open an investigation. The company offers seller protections so you are not liable for an unauthorized transaction.

Thank you for getting back to me.Can you assure me that is in good state and that i will not be disappointed with it?I'm ready to pay your asking price and to be honest, i want to buy it for my new moving house. I am marine biologist that works on the sea at the moment,will pay you through my PayPal account.Please get back to me with your PayPal name and PayPal email account so that i can make the payment asap ,I have an pick up agent that will come for it after i make the payment.
This was from AlexJoe271@ gmail.com

Phone number: (708) 792-0027‬

First contact via text message from an add on Craig’s List: Hello kindly get back to me on my mail SgtDonardwilliams@ gmail.com with the Firm price and the condition of the Bike Thanks.

Note the eMail ID that contains the person’s name: Sgt. Donald Williams. This will change in subsequent text. Funny stuff. I didn’t reply to that email ID on purpose.

Second Text message after 8 days: i am very interested in it and i am okay with the price , i wont be able to come for the pick up ,because i am currently deployed , but i will hire a shipper who will come for the pick up ,and also do the necessary paperwork on my behalf as soon as we are done with the payment part of the transaction. I am comfortable making the payment via PayPal to complete this transaction because of their security when it comes to online transactions. Let me have your PayPal details ( Account name,PayPal Email and the Pick up Address so that I can initiate the payment.

At this point I asked for his name. Here is what I got: Sgt Robert Anthony Note a different name than 8 days earlier. ALARM!!! Followed by the urgency to get my contact information:

Do get back to me with your Paypal email address to make the payment

Eric Jones (323) 985-1687 texted about my car advert (could have been Craigslist or CarGuru), asking me to email (no harm right?) so I did. He responded 'not available to view because of my job,. I want to buy this for my son birthday Gift. I am currently deployed... OK with asking price...only pay through PayPal at the moment because its the most secure way.'. Asked questions, polite - and a courier would pick up after money was in my hand. After finding this blog I asked Eric to email me from his military account. Guessing I won't hear back ;)

Same scam from 3 different numbers for furniture on Craigslist 412-385-7475, 682-213-7698, and 626-594-7816. The 626 number offered to send me a cashier's check. The other 2 had the same PayPal demands.

Same 626- number sent me a text and asked me my address to send cashier's check.. what would be their trick with cashier's check? They just trying to get my name and address info or else? This must be a scam, right?

I just received this message for a car I’m selling lol:
I am satisfied with the condition and I am going to purchase it. I am presently at Fort Detrick, Frederick, Maryland. Due to my job, I won't be able to come for it. I will have an agent come for pickup on my behalf. I request this transaction be done via Paypal and the Paypal charges are on me. Do you have a Paypal account? Sgt. Wood.

Mine, he asked to pay me the rent in advance for one of my rooms to rent from easy roommates.com
Then asked me to ship 950 $ which is included in the full amount for rent and bond. and ship 950$ to some shipment company via western union money transfer. to help him!!!!!

From 240 355 3280 STG Wood
I am satisfied with the condition and I am going to purchase it. I am presently at Fort Detrick, Frederick, Maryland. Due to my job, I won't be able to come for it. I will have an agent come for pickup on my behalf. I request this transaction be done via Paypal and the Paypal charges are on me. Do you have a Paypal account? Sgt. Wood.

I’ve had three separate (or maybe they’re the same) people message me saying they will only pay through PayPal and then will send a mover to pick up m merchandise after money clears. I don’t how this will work for them? If i check My real PayPal and funds are not there then i don’t allow anyone to pick up my merchandise, right? I would Also have to be able to move the money from my PayPal to my bank before I considered the transaction cleared. Is there another way they can scam me if these are my terms?

Please note the variation of my scam, type in "offshore oil and gas paypal scam" into google and view the news articles.
Scam Text: "Thanks for getting back, I'm cool with the price likewise the condition, I work with New Zealand Oil and Gas (NZOG) and we are presently offshore in New Zealand Taranaki Basin.
We do not have access to phone at the moment and that's why I contacted you with internet messaging facility. I will be paying you through PayPal linked up with my Westpac bank account, please get back to me with your Paypal details, I have also contacted my courier who will come for pick up and deliver it to my place in Darwin after the whole fund has been cleared into your acct."

What is the Scammer's aim please as I got this email today?

Thanks for your response, Yes the chair

I want you to consider this a deal as i am willing to pay your full asking price! i actually want to buy it for a family member who is urgently in need of it, i have checked through your posting and i'm fully satisfied with it.
Unfortunately, i would not be able to come personally to view/collect, i work offshore as an instructor on a oil rig so i dont have time at all, but like i said i am 100% OK with the advert. However, I have a reliable courier that would help me to pick it up at your preferred location after you have received your money via PayPal as that is the only means of payment available to me at the moment. I would also appreciate if you could remove the advert asap.

To start off with, please get back to me with suitable collection time so that I can inform the courier agent about it now.

If the message is from a scammer, he might:

  • send you a link that takes you to a fake PayPal website. If you type your personal information on that fake site, the scammer can take your information and use it to commit fraud.
  • say he sent payment to your PayPal account, plus extra money to pay for shipping the merchandise. He asks you to return that "extra money" to him by wire transfer. When a buyer says he sent extra money and asks for money back, it's a sign of a scam. If you send him money, you will lose money. 

Before you send anyone merchandise, log into your PayPal account yourself. Make sure you were paid. Never follow links in emails from a person you don't know.

I received the same email and process request today except that I need to make a payment of $1,250 out of my pocket via Money Gram Money Transfer at nearest Walmart to the address given to you by PayPal, And you will receive the whole money of $6,800 in your account - without any delay this are done to protect both of us from a fraudulent transaction... Pls advise ASAP. Apparently this was the advise of PayPal prior to confirming my account.

Same thing as yall, with the questions, word for word. Even tho my post answered some of them which was strange but I answered anyways. His reply(james porter e-5 with the Army) is pasted below. Thankfully I found this info because it was too strange to agree to full price and said PayPal only, so I searched craigslist scams and found this blog. Thanks so much. Almost messed up.

It's a pleasure to virtually meet you and I do appreciate the way you answered to all my questions! I’m satisfied with it 's condition and I believe I won’t be disappointed buying it from you. Also, I want you to know I am seriously interested in purchasing it and am pretty sure my brother is going to cherish and enjoy it more than you did. Well, it will be a very good decision to see what I'm buying myself, but I am a very busy person and won’t be able to come see or inspect it as I have a hauler carrier agent that will be coming for the pick up/storage & sign all necessary documents, I.e. (The paperwork and transferring of ownership) will be done by the hauler agent on my behalf. Plus, I would also love to assure you that it won't leave your possession until the money is being received and cleared into your PayPal account. I will be patient with you as am a honest man and a man of my word, so once everything is completed, then we can both schedule the hauler arrival time and date for the pickup of it.

BTW, I'd have loved to send the hauler agent with a cash or cashier check, but they do not deal with cash transaction between buyer and seller. So, since I'm requesting this transaction to be done via PayPal, I will be responsible for all the PayPal fees/charges for this transaction & I hope we can make this transaction as fast as possible, As I look forward hearing from you with your PayPal information as requested below since you're the holder of the account.

Your PayPal email address:
Firm price for the item:
Home address as for the pickup/meeting location & cell phone#:

I am ready to purchase the it, so you can take the add off and consider it sold to me and its new owner which is my brother. You can easily setup an account with PayPal at paypal. com

Very Respectfully!

Hi anyone been contacted by a ethannwilliee @ gmail.com? Story sounds very much the same

I just got a similar text from an "enlisted guy" wanting to by my motor home. Phone number from AZ 928-707-8140. Thank you everyone for keeping safe.

Sent: Friday, July 20, 2018 6:51 AM
To:
Subject: Re: 5th wheel

Thank you for responding. I am okay with the Ad,and your asking price and ready to make a fast purchase. Kindly send me some pics close up. I would like to see any imperfections just to be sure but if it is how you have described it everything is Ok. Also I am wondering if you are you the first owner of it? Also does it has any fault? Why are you selling it? How have you been using it?
Best Regards

I just received an “offer” for an antique stove on Craigslist with payment only through PayPal. Nice try!

Thanks to all for the heads up.

My father is trying to sell his car and has had a scam email from a ‘pascaline Laurrie’
We are in UK and I traced the IP address to outside Grafton, New Hampshire.
Same basic message as all others on here except can’t collect in person because he/she has just had heart surgery and is deaf.... can only pay via PayPal
Stay safe people!

Hi Rob, I have had the same person contact me. How do you know this is a scam?

DO NOT USE PAYPAL!
I am out $750 dollars with no one to even talk to.

Terrible service. I have been trying to deal with a missing payment for over 2 months. I "transferred" money on June 6 2018, and 2 months later still have nothing to show for it. they even took their $8.00 commission from the transaction yet i have not received my money. Their staff is extremely unprofessional and not very well informed. Every time I call in (which usually takes an hour wait on hold!) I then get the exact same recommendation from their useless call center employees (for me to file a claim) which I have done already a month ago. I was giving a trace number, transaction ID number, account number and promised someone will be in touch in a few days and nothing comes out of it not even a phone call.

Their staff keeps blaming my bank. terrible just terrible service.

DO NOT USE PAYPAL!! you run the risk of losing your money.

I’m so glad I read all this comments. I knew there was something fishy about this message I got from this number (646) 844-5373 Good day, i am Sophie luiz, I would have loved to see this item but am presently busy here at the base. I am Okay with your advert price and i will as well be sending your money via PayPal asap. Do you have PayPal account so that i can proceed with the payment. Kindly get back to me with your PayPal info and also have the posting deleted Asap.. . 1.Are you the original owner . 2.how long have you own it & present condition ?. 3.what's the pick up location ?

I got both, one wants to pay via cashier check and one wants to pay via paypal both can not come in person.

(1) can i pay to you using a cashier check and up $50 just to secure the sale till you have the check and have it cleared by your bank
i will be using a mover for the pickup once we are settled..

(2) Ok,I’m Jeff,I’m currently stationed at Fort Drum Army Base in Jefferson,NY. I would love to purchase it to my new house in California due to my PCS moves to Fort Irwin Army Base in Barstow. I won’t be able to come in person so I hope is in good shape?My best arrangement to take it is to pay you via paypal account and to contact a local moving company that will handle the pick once the payment has been made and confirmed. Hope that works fine?

Got text message yesterday from David McGrace phone 515-989-8892 email dave. mcgrace 1970s @gmail. com wanting to buy my jeep tow vehicle for his daughter. Made me a little curious when he didn't seem to care that much about the extra equipment that was in the deal but wanted me to use Paypal.

I have been helping a friend sell his car with an ad that I placed on Craigslist. During the last couple weeks, I have gotten at least a dozen texts or emails from obvious scammers. The first tip-off is that they usually want specific information that is already provided in the ad (i.e. photos, mileage, etc.). In addition, they often claim that there is a problem with the Craigslist email and then ask you to contact them directly instead. Then, after they've made you do some work and got you engaged and invested in the process, they act like they are very interested in buying the vehicle (sight unseen). Next comes the scam email which is usually in one of two forms as follows: 1) They want you to click on a link to order a vehicle report and send it to them regarding the title status of the vehicle (it is not clear if this is merely a ploy to get your personal information or if they actually make money when you order the report), or 2) They claim that they can't come in person, but will send a proxy to buy the car and payment will be through PayPal.

The scams are so prevalent that I have gotten at least 5-6 of each. The worst part is that until you know it is a scam, you have to assume it may be an inquiry from a legitimate buyer and they waste tons of time asking for information in an effort to convince you that they are really an interested buyer.

I just had a lady from...the navy??? wanting to buy my car off trademe, txted my cellphone from a number 5111 saying to email her on joy35 @hotmail. com because this was her work phone. Email said she wants to make sure my car is as it says it is on the AD said to give her my paypal details so she can give me payment and also wanted my home address so an agent can come to my house to collect the vehicle as she cannot because shes out on duty. As soon as I told her I don't use PayPal you can put it straight into my bank account and I will not give you my address until payment is received as you could just be a scammer I then stopped getting emails. She used the name DOROTHY HUGHES...beaware!!

Trying to sell my iPhone X, offered more than what new one sells for-THANK YOU FOR THIS SITE! Asked him to call he said no, after I said I had to speak to him about payment. He called, VERY broken English, sounded like a Call Center background. I told him I couldn’t PP, he said he’s semd a link, I said I have one, I just won’t be using it, told him to Western Union, he said okay, he just needs my email and info, I said he doesn’t need that for Western Union and he hung up, I text that I am reporting him and no answer back—I go back to my email and it’s an email from Michael James, now, asking if I sold my “item”....how are we suppose to sell anything anymore?? Damn scammers!

Watch out for Anna Josey (joseanna002 @gmail. com). I’m in Scotland and she/he is trying to scam me at this very minute. This has happened to me about 6 different times, all different names, different, but similar scenarios. They have to use PayPal, they sent too much money, can you send the money back but take off your payment as well as £100 as a goodwill gesture, they’ll send their couriers blah blah. DONT FALL FOR IT PEOPLE! I wouldn’t want to see anyone lose any amount of money over these lowlifes!

Ours was from somebody in the military serving their country buying for his son and did not have access to a bank account so would buy our caravan using PayPal and would I follow the link offered full price and PayPal fees .not a chance in hell.Told in reply pay by cheque and when funds clear pick up the caravan no more contact.

David harold trying to also scam me currently, in johannesburg South Africa. i advertised my item for sale on Gumtree.

OMW..... David Harold has just tried to scam me to!!! I just googled his email address and read all of this, Thank goodness I did. Can this David Harold not be reported??? He said exactly the same to me that he has said to everyone else. Wanting to buy my wedding dress. Cannot believe he can do this!!!

New message from: patricx60 (0)
“Good morning seller
Am Patricia Smith the buyer of your lovely item on eBay...........kindly send me your cell phone or text me Because I need to talk to you on phone before making the payment
530 346 3322........God Bless you“

Is this a scam? I’m 15 and this is my first time selling on eBay

I'm selling a van the email me and give me full price and ask me if I had a paypal account I said no he sent the INFO and he wants me to make a payment to the pickup guy before I get the money he said then I will get the money he put on paypal account for me

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