You are here

Online sellers stung by scammers spoofing PayPal brand

Share this page

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

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, 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 if you’ve been stung by a PayPal spoof. The company wants to hear from you.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money


1 hour after posting truck for sale on craigslist I rec'd text wanting to buy it, as is and right away , today via Paypal and will send someone to pick it up. Yeah Right !!. If it sounds to good to be true it typically is. Thanks for all the prior post , just confirmed my thoughts

ADVERTISED CAR FOR "FREE" ON "ONLINE CARS. COM" THEY REQUIRE AND POST PHONE NUMBER TO "PREVENT SCAMS" BUT A FEW HOURS AFTER POSTING THE ADD I GET A TEXT ASKING THE TYPICAL MORONIC MAROON QUESTION " IS IT STILL AVAILABLE ?" ANSWERED YES. THEN TEXT ASKING ME HOW LONG IVE BEEN DRIVING IT RELIED SEVERAL YEARS THEN GOT THE FOLLOWING TEXT " I would have Loved to come in person to Pay You an Upfront Cash Payment or check, but i am presently not within reach and I would Urge You to Understand that PayPal is all I have got Left for this Transaction.I have all my money in my paypal account and I also have my bank account details attached to my paypal account, this is why i insisted on using paypal to pay you. " STARTED TO SOUND SUSPICIOUS SIGHT UNSEEN FULL PRICE SO ASKED HIM TO SEND THEIR PAY PAL ADDRESS HE SENT IT ( A G MAIL ADDRESS WITH ENDING IN A NUMBER. THE HIGHEST FORM OF ALARM FOR ME AS IVE HAD PREVIOUS PROBLEMS WITH THIS TYPE OF EMAIL.

Same spam related to purchase of an auto part for sale from a Craigslist post I did two days ago. Only text messages, no name, says he/she is at Offutt AFB, Bellevue, so must use Paypal, will send a mover. Phone number is 405-294-6816. No name provided and did not respond to my request to speak on the phone. Beware!

recieved text soon after ad went live on asking if the car was still available. i replied yes. they asked price and why i was selling. told them and then they said they could do the transaction through paypal. they said it was the safest and eistiest way and would get car after payment settled. they ask if i had a paypal account. i replied i would meet the buyer at their bank for verified funds. they said they did not feel comfortable which is why the requested paypal. i replied any reputable buyer would be comfortable meeting at the bank. i told them i would report them to the police but i suspected the phone number was spoofed. they did not reply back after my last text.

a few minutes after this recieved another text from a different number pulling the same scam. its sad some people fall for this scam. the people running these scams should be arrested and prosecuted but i am not sure how any police agency would go about it.

I have received so many of these, that I can't keep track: Hi, SCAMMER: I'm interesting in buying your car, Do you still have it for sale? What the last asking price? What sort of conditions history? Do you accept PayPal as a mode of payment. Hope to hear from you soon.

ME: Yes, the car is still available. Good condition. Price is $5500. I do not accept paypal. Cash or cashiers check only. Must pick up and pay for the car in person, and complete DMV paperwork at time of pickup.

SCAMMER: Thanks for the response,I'm located in Los Angeles CA, but due to my condition as a deaf and dumb person,i can't be able to speak with you on phone. I will love to make an instant purchase because i'm buying this car for my dad as a surprise gift for his birthday . I really want the car to be a surprise for my dad by not disclosing the car until the delivery is made to him, i'm sure he will be more than happy with the car. I don't mind adding an extra $50 for you to take the advert down from the site so that i can be rest assured that i'm in hand of the car, l will offer you the amount required and i can only pay you through PayPal at this moment, all i will need is your PayPal money request or PayPal email address to make the payments and i will be happy to pay PayPal charges,and if you don't have a PayPal account yet, you can set one up at .paypal. it cant take you less than 5 mins to do that. I have a pick up agent that will come for the pick up after payments has been sorted.

ME: Well then, given those circunstances, you should probably look for a car closer to your home in Los Angeles. But you can tell your dad that I said "happy birthday"

Received email from authentic-looking PayPal fake. Told me my account is on hold for lack of funding. Wanted sensitive info to correct problem. Contacted real PayPal and was told it was not them that sent it. Messages will show up in your account if they are really from Paypal

I am Joshua,i will like to know Why you are you selling it,are you the first owner,because i cant make it there to check it out due to the nature of my job,but i will arrange the freight that will visit you to pick it up after you get paid. I'm Okay with the conditions and i'm ready to purchase it,the Movers will visit you to pick it up as soon as you receive the payment,i am a PayPal verified member,do you have PayPal account for the payment?

This sure seems like a scam to me with everything I've read?

Posted a vehicle on CL and got a text almost immediately from 520-904-1563 asking if still available. Replied yes. Was asked condition of vehicle. Asked if we could speak by phone rather than text and never heard back. Got another text about an hr later from 303-351-7849. Asked if vehicle available. Replied yes. They asked condition. Asked to call said they prefer text. Said he was a military man and was buying the vehicle for his son as a surprise. Told him someone should get back to him with condition. Knew it sounded sketchy and he immediately said ok but let me get your paypal email so I can get started with the money transfer. I said nope. He said you don't have paypal. I didn't answer. He then asked if we could just get me set up with account. Said no. Never heard back. The sad thing is is that for every one of us that senses the scam, there's someone willing to go through with it.

Listed a car for sell on Craigslist.

Dude calls says he is helping her daughter get the car. He said the bank agreed for a car loan for 16,300.00 but he is willing to pay $14,000.00 and since the bank is issuing $16,300.00 cashiers check I will need for refund $2,300.00.

He sound like a 35 year old guy but says his "child" is 23 years old.

I asked him why don't her daughter take the cashiers check on his name so he can withdraw it and then give her the money. He thought about it and said no we don't have a car so the bank won't issue a check on our name.

Lucky for me I just googled if there has been any scams similar to this and boom turns out plenty.

This is his phone number 415-604-2623

862.205.5387 just texted me interested in a laptop. Wanting to pay by PayPal and for me to ship on their personal UPS Account. Wanted it shipped to a daughter in Texas. Yea....Right

972 483 4547. Texted me about a laptop i posted. Said he is at a funeral but wants it shipped to his son in nj. Sending an extra $100 for shipping and gas. Nd ship it express at usps.

Still happening...same scenario here....full price...sight unseen...first requested check...then went to PayPal.... Number is 1-360-227-7294....guy named chris

Selling a double wide mobile on Craig's list. Had a text response within 5 minutes of posting offer.Seems to be some recurring sentences/words with these scams...Courier will pick it up, Use Pay Pal as safest method, in the military & can't take phone calls so use email, any damages & offers full price right away, wants my pay pal acct. # on first email, and one sentence resonated throughout your testimonials...'hope to read from you soon'. Add name Steven Wooden to list of scammers trying to scam this Holiday!

I lost rs.6000 because of carelessness of PayPal. I purchased a script for gamersfall. com and got cheated.

Its this company called Matrix Unlocking. He Said He Can Unlock It But I Don't Want My Money To Be Took. Can Someone Tell Me If It's A Real Website Or Not.

Very informative article about PayPal. I just read that PayPal will shortly stop serving Turkey due to regulatory restrictions.

Received from thomasjones7208@ in regards to a boat but... he never even mentions "boat"...

Thanks for the prompt respond!. I do appreciate the way you answered my questions & and sure my son will love and enjoy the Item more than you did. Im satisfied with it conditions and i want you to know am serious in purchasing the Item from you because my son birthday is Friday. (Mega Sentence time…) I have a hauler carrier agent that will come for the pick up after the payment and sign all necessary documents transferring the name of ownership and signing of all paperwork will be done by the hauler agent on my behalf also i would love to assure you that the Item wont leave your side until the money is in your account and clears i will be patient with you as am an honest man and a man of my word so once all this is done then we can now both schedule the pickup time and date. I look forward to hearing from you with your PayPal information as requested below.

Hello my name is Leslie 310-744-4378 310-469-9989 304-249-3060 424-625-2732 these numbers are all scammers. His name is "Williams" claims he is in the military and really wanted a rug I have put for sale on an app called letgo. Ignorant I followed through he wanted to pay me through papal if not a check. I told him I didn't have a paypal and he could send me a check. The rug was put for sell for $70 the check arrived to my address but not with his name it came from a therapeutic company. The check was made for $720. I was surprised by the amount and I told him he over paid me. "Williams" said it was his boss who sent the check and the rest of the money he was for his "pickers" who were going to pick up the rug. It then felt sketch. He kept insisting to cash in the check asap and to let him know. I told him I would send him the check back to him and that I was not going to go through with the deal. He got mad and started to threaten me saying he knows where I live and how He was going to bring his friends over to give me a lesson. Since this is the FIRST time this has ever happened I almost went to deposit the check because I didn't want any problems. After trying to get to an agreement he was mad because I didn't follow through. I reported him to the police already because he was getting out of hand.

Here's another scenario to watch for. This one came from 1-703-996-7865.
Buyer wants to buy big-ticket item (that's very difficult to move) without seeing it, and will send "private shipper" to pick it up. Shipper can't accept PayPal, so buyer will add the shipping cost to the PayPal payment to seller, and seller will pay cash to shipper. Seller then receives fake PayPal email and doesn't double-check PayPal account balance, so seller pays shipper cash. Shipper then leaves to get big truck and helpers to load item - and never comes back.

Here's another one from elmerhewett0 1-832-650-9348

I hope it is in good condition? and there wont be any cause of disappointment if i purchase it from you? I want to buy it for my son as a birthday gift and I am ready to pay the asking price. I'm an Ocean Engineer and am currently on sea right now which is strictly no calls. My Mode of payment is PayPal because i don't have access to my bank account online, but i have it attached to my PayPal account. Since I'm requesting this transaction to be done via PayPal, I will be responsible for all the Paypal fees/charges on this transaction, if you don't have an account with paypal, it's pretty easy, safe and secure to open one. Just log on to www. paypal. com. I hope we can make this transaction as fast as possible. Less I forgot, I have a Mover that will come for it once payment is cleared in your paypal account and they will be handling the title for me, as I look forward to hearing from you with your paypal information as requested below. 

Your PayPal e-Mail Address : Full name: Firm Price: Many Thanks

A co-worker had a good suggestion. If a scammer claims to be in the military, ask them to tell you their CO's (Commanding Officer) name. It is public record, so there is no excuse for them not to. From Craigslist I have had a fake cashiers check sent FEDEX with a fake return address. The check is pretty authentic looking, except there is no security in the paper (did have a watermark), and no complete address, from STATE CREDIT UNION (no specific state). The check would clear, but after another few days it gets caught, AFTER you send out some money they need for "shipping" (I did not let it go that far, or did I deposit it).

I'm not sure I understand the scam. If you verify that the funds are received in your PayPal account ( not through a link in a fake e mail) how do you lose? Can the buyer claim something false later to try to retract the funds?

Scammer #602-552-7155    E-Mail: pamelabrown1943

Same scenario, is it available?  Cursory questions and then this:

Thanks for answering the questions. I am satisfied but can you assure me that i will not be disappointed if i buy this Vehicle. I'm ready to pay your asking price but not cash in person because I'm currently in a conference and calls are restricted at the moment and my only quickest payment option is PayPal, its safe fast and secure and i will be for the PayPal transaction charges so you can get expected amount. If you don't have an account with PayPal, its pretty easy to open one,Just log onto www. paypal. com and sign up. I hope we can make the purchase as fast as possible? As I am buying the vehicle for someone and I'm very sure he will love this vehicle, his a mechanic and a handy man, so if there is anything that need to be fixed in it just let me know he will handle it. I have a mover that will come for the pick up once payment clears in your account and he will handle the title for me.I look forward to hear from you with the information below. Your PayPal e-Mail Address : Full name: Firm Price: Zip code for pickup:

Steer clear...

Thanks to this excellent page, I think I dodged a bullet...I was attempting to sell my wedding dress on a second-hand clothes site, and a woman under the name of Kate Craddock commented, asking me to e-mail her with more details (which is not necessarily suspicious per se). Once I e-mailed her, she replied offering to pay more than I had requested, saying she could only pay through PayPal with some strange excuse about account linking "only" through that website (??). Once she offered to over-pay and would only use PayPal, I had a sufficiently bad feeling, which led me here. She also asked for my PayPal username, and even sent a follow-up e-mail to ask again on a day when I wasn't able to respond to her first e-mail within a couple of hours. Once I asked for a delivery address (she gave another bizarre response, something like 0068 CR, etc.) and pointed out that, if the problem was being restricted to PayPal, the website she contacted me on (plus ebay, and loads of others) offer payment options by signing into your PayPal, she stopped responding entirely. Sighhh...Back to the drawing board, I guess...

The exact same Kate Craddock contacted me using a fake PayPal account trying to purchase an extremely expensive belt from my poshmark scammer! So disgusting people like that exist

Thanks a lot for information, I was also contacted by the same Kate Craddock...

Was this on Poshmark? I got contacted someone named Kate Craddock as well, inquiring about purchasing my Gucci items.

I got contacted by Kate Craddock today for an Alice and Olivia dress. Thank goodness I decided to google her name when I started getting suspicious, and found out that she has been trying to scam other Poshmark users. How despicable!

You’re lucky you dodged a bullet. I on the other hand not so much. I am a 17 year old and was selling my prom dress on Poshmark. I got comment on my picture saying that if I was interested In Selling it to contact kate Craddock’s phone number. So I did. I was not familiar with paypal, I’ve heard about it but never used it. I got an account and she said she transferred my money to my account, my balance was still at zero. I received more emails saying that the amount has changed and that I need to refund her. I refunded her money and it totaled to $550 the dress was $550. I sent the dress before I got the email saying I got the money. I am out $1,100 right now. She scammed me.

Interesting, I got contracted for a laptop few minutes after posting the add. same modus operandi. Only PayPal and he asked me to ship the item abroad for his son. He was willing to pay the shipping fees of 200$. I was skeptical, but thanks to all your testimony everything is clear now

Text inquiry first then email sent with this-
Hello, thx for getting back to me, i'm Mike Taylor, i'm an oil and gas rotary drill operator and currently i won't be able to come for the inspection due to the nature of my work.i'd appreciate if you email me with more closeup pics for a better look since i won't be be able to see this in person, but i have a mover who is gonna come to your location only after payment has been made and cleared, so i've chosen to have this done via paypal as it's the easiest and safest way to pay online, i have a few questions for you below and i want you to be honest with me

has the engine been replaced? is the vessel and its engine under warranty? has the boat ever been in salt water? are u the original owner? when was it last used? how is it stored in the winter? what's your firm price? and where are you currently located? and lastly hope you got a paypal acct??

pls get back to me asap.

I have this exact guy emailing me now, saying the exact wording line for line...funny!

I got an email from him too.. !! I posted my car for sale and got an email from him! Hope he gets caught soon !

I just received this exact email from #Mike Taylor#. Same scenario. Selling a truck on Craigslist. He wants me to do the PayPal thing. Red flags all over. Stay clear. It’s truly a scam. Some people have way to much time on there hands. Special place in HELL for them.

I'm selling a truck in Alabama on Craigslist. Some dude from California offers to purchase it through PayPal then send a currier for the pick up. I told him this would be a cash only exchange and he could send his curries with the cash through PayPal. Never heard from him again lol.

857-232-6254 - Craigslist scammer. I posted items for sale on different categories on NYC Craigslist. In less than 15 mins I got a text from this number interested in a laptop bag (Computers category on Craigslist) and saying will pay full price and buying for a friend in college. Asked for zipcode to calculate shipping cost and if I have paypal account to receive payment. I replied this item is only "Cash and carry only" knowing full well plenty of scammers on Craigslist. In 2 mins time, I got a similar text from this number again interested in the shoes I posted (Clothing and Accessories category on Craigslist). This is how I knew for certain this person is a scammer and is using technology to identify new items posted for sale on Craigslist in record time (it takes time to sort through the amount of postings in one category, whatmore in multiple categories on Craigslist) while the innocent sellers (usually not your regular professional sellers that are aware of Internet scams) is still "fresh" in wanting to sell his/her items. Beware and be safe!

I recived a call from a man named Bailey Thomas (201)995-6452 he stated that he wanted to buy my benz and that he can pay per paypal,that he was buying it for smeone dear to him. He claimed he would have a trucker come pick it up.I decided to google paypal scam before i gave him the information and this page came up

Got a similar email for a car I listed.

Submitted/reported cell phone... 669-400-2976

Also sent an email to report the #.

Received text message wanting to buy car and pay via paypal, just like everyone else. I told him that vehicles were not covered under PayPal's buyer/sell protection guidelines... and said if he was seriously interested that he could send a cashier's check, money order, or send the cash with the mover to pay me upon collection of vehicle. Not a peep back from the fraud.

Thank you FTC and all of the comments. Just got this one.
I became a bit suspicious too although I got roped in at firs then trusted my instinct and found this site. He(Roy Cryan) wrote "Great..I'm okay with the asking price and also am buying this for my son, i will be having my hauler come for the pickup due to the fact that i work with the military, it's pretty tight,I'm making the payment via paypal as it's attached to my bank account and note that i will be responsible for the paypal charges.....Do you have a paypal account?" He hasn't yet transferred money (6 hours after he said he's send it right away). Unfortunately I gave him my number and email address although not sure what he can do with that.

Just got the exact same scam for same guy yesterday! Roy Cyran - same words exactly. Thank you for sharing the info - saved me from this scammer.

me too!

I just got the exact same message from "Roy Cryan" and was hesitating to reply when my daughter did a search and found this blog. Thank you!

Ugh. Trying to sell dining furniture and got the same email from Roy Cryan. Glad I googled it and found this site.

Yep, another "Roy Cryan" email from a craigslist ad here. I could tell it was fake, because they asked "I saw your ad on craigslist and it was lovely,i would like to know more about it tell me the condition.". Since I posted extensive images and described it, I knew they were trying to scam.

I got exactly the same comment from Roy Cryan about my dining room set listed on craigslist!!I just sent him an e-mail asking if he was still interested, when I decided to google him and found this site! (BTW, who says "it was lovely"????

R Roy Cryan to nhr8q-6185622948 2 days agoDetails I work with the Military and am presently located at San Luis Obispo County California Military Bases, United States, so i wont be able to come. As soon as the payment clears i have a mover that would come over to pick it up..

Just got email from same Roy Cryan interested in a rug I posted last night. Thankful for this site and all your notes on this!

Another Roy Cryan scam story! Same words exactly about the "lovely" piece and how he was in San Luis Opisbo. So glad I googled his name and found the site about his scamming history. I did think it was too good to be true.

If a person wants to pay you through PayPal for say a phone or something, can that money they use to pay ever be taken away as a fraud?


Leave a Comment