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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 the same exact message and was very suspicious. Thank you for posting this!

I just got an almost identical text messsage, but mine was sergeant Daniel from the pentagon lol.

I got a text similar to everyone else's, other than this is Labor Day, and he said he couldn't come get the camper because he had a doctors appointment and an appliance(whatever that had to do with anything, it certainly didn't make any sense) and he would send a mover to pick it up. I'm glad I called my son before I did something I'd regret.

Add Jay Pennington to this long list, From Lincoln University, PA 610-910-5539. Same script

Does this sound like a scam?
My name is Eric Morgan, am very happy you get back to me about my enquirer regarding your post on Craigslist, Can you assure me that i won't be disappointed with it because i want to present it to my Son as a Gift... Are you the first owner ? if so I'm pleased with the condition. and I'm ready to pay your firm price. Do you have PayPal account?

I too just received an email saying wanting to buy my car for his dad and full price and hopes he wouldnt be disappointed in car. He stated he was in military and wanted to put money in paypal acct. Said to send email to his wife. I replied back no paypal ifyour wife wanted to come see Car and likedit then I will only accept cash orcashiers check. Lol never heard back. SELLER BEWARE. I had a similar email several months ago on somethng else i was selling on craigslist and told them only cash or cashiers check and they got angry and cursed me in an email.

My scamster's name is Christopher Early.....720-599-6493......there actually is a Chris Early in Colorado, but...I'm guessing Chris's English is much better than "my Christopher"......who is "on assignment" and can't get that cashiers check issued........"that is why i am offering to have my bank account linked up with my paypal account (is THAT how that works..... ;)
my guy has a "company courier agent" ready to come get my car................I don't think so....

same guy tried to buy my car but with a 303 number I never got any emails though Same exact scenario Same name beware

yep, same guy, same scam, still going around. Someone with that name just tried to buy my car. What a wank

I got the same one today selling a bike out of LA. Guy "Christopher Early" willing to pay nearly full price, 303-835-6887 trying to use PayPal and "company courier agent".
I'm guessing they use a fake PayPal website to get you to enter bank info and other personal information.
Seemed phishy the whole time but glad I googled the name.

Chris Earley from Colorado.....tried to buy my moms motorcycle from California....seemed a little odd but the story follows what everyone else has said . "On assignment", "Set up PayPal", "Set up a transfer" etc. Glad I saw these posts to solidify our suspicions.

Same thing. Christopher Early using (303) 835-6887 buying my motorcycle - Not very concerned with price. Wants me to send him Paypal Money Request and one it clears, he will have his "company courier agent" pick up the bike. I just texted him a snip of these comments and stated "Is this you?" He wrote back... "I don't understand." Deleted.

Had the same today 11th September from ad in auto trader....

I am OK with your asking price and if you dont mind, I can only pay through PayPal at the moment due to my work and pickup agent is avail to come and pick it up after payment made,all i need is the email u use in setting it up and ur name so that i can make the payment and u will be notify by paypal as soon as am done.arrangement for the picking follows as paypal will update u on that after transaction completed

I am selling an item on Craigslist and got a text from 817-592-2172 asking if it was still for sale. I replied yes it is. They responded with "Hope you're honest with the condition as posted on Craiglist? I am actually buying this as a surprise birthday present for my partner who works abroad , i am gonna offer $400 for everything if you promise it gets shipped in good condition. Do you have a PayPal account?"
After saying no they replied with "You can easily set up one now www. PayPal. com PayPal is the safest and fastest means of sending and receiving money.I'm a serious buyer and i have no problem sending the money first."

Sounds like a scam to me, would everyone agree?

This email is a scam:jmsstone100@     This phone number belongs to the same person: 504-702-0238   Classic PayPal scam.

cantum822 is at it again. Texted me from 404-596-7148 in response to a cars.com ad. Insisted on paying through paypal and that they would send an agent to pick the car up. Gave their names as Miguel and Rebecca Cantu

I got the exact same message from Rebecca and Miguel Cantu for my ad on cars.com, but I was suspicious they wanted to buy it site unseen and only via a Paypal account. Thanks for the confirming the scam.

Listed my car on Autotrader/Kelly Blue Book. Guy reached out with the exact same scam. It felt hunky to me, but I am so glad for these posts because it allowed me to confirm my suspicions. Here's what I received with fake link to PayPal. Beware!!! Do you have the extra keys, Do you have the spare tire, Where did you get your car serviced, Have you ever had any transmission repairs and Is there any rust on the vehicle? I'm ready to pay your asking price but not cash in person because I am serving in the US army and currently been deploy to Fort Huachuca Military Base , Arizona and calls are restricted at the moment and my only quickest payment option is PayPal, its safe fast and secure and i will be responsible for the PayPal transaction charges so you can get your 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 my dad 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 would appreciate if you email me with more pictures (if available) too since i won't be able to see this in person. I look forward to hear from you with the information below. I look forward to hear from you with the information below. Your PayPal e-Mail Address : Full name: Phone Number- Firm Price: Zip code for pickup: Thanks Gomez

So glad I checked here. Below is the email exchanges we had.

Pamela dennis To: Yahoo Sep 28 at 9:58 AM Thanks for getting back to me, I am Sgt currently deployed to a remote area until ? October 30. Can you assure me that it's in good state as it appears and that i will not be disappointed with it It is strictly no calls here due to security reasons, otherwise I would have called you to seal the deal,but i can actually try to use my phone applications to text you with my laptop.I have read through your ad and from what I have seen,it is priced favorably compared to others so I want you to consider it sold to me ''AS IS'' for the asking price but you have to assure me it is as described.

I am comfortable paying you 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, Pick Address and Mobile #) so that I can initiate the payment. If you don't have a PayPal account kindly set one up because it is absolutely free.

Furthermore, I will hire shipper that will come for the pickup, and also do the necessary paperwork on my behalf as soon as we are done with the payment part of the transaction.I'll like to see more recent pictures if you still have. If you don't , then lets proceed

Show original message John To: Pamela dennis Sep 28 at 11:42 AM Sounds good, let me send you some more pictures tonight. I do have a paypal account, that's not a problem. I want to make sure you get all the paperwork (title, manuals, warranties, etc.) at the same time the paypal wire is sent so we can do the transaction securely so neither one of us is at risk. I understand the lack of cell phone use, can you face time/video conference on your computer so I can show you the bike? For now I will hold it for you.

Pamela dennis To: Thanks for getting back to me...i am okay with everything you have said concerning the Vehicle and i want you to know i am really interested buying it from you and i want you to consider it sold to me.... and once the payment part is done my private mover will be there for the pickup..do get back to me with your PayPal email address..,Full name..,Mobile number..,Firm price..,Pickup address so as to makeout the paymen

I put an ad on Autotrader’s yesterday and at 2:52 am (suspicious on its own) I got a text from Sgt Pamela Dennis. “She” is a busy girl. Thank you for posting!

Same, got the same exact email, same person Pamela Dennis, still scamming in 2019

Same, got the same exact email, same person Pamela Dennis, still scamming in 2019

Had similar today with Gumtree. colinsloop70 was the address he used, but initially sent a text. HE was buying a car for his son, but it had to be done by paypal. Didn't respond to his email.

I received a text within 30 minutes of posting my car for sale on Craigslist. Said "My name is Mark... is this listed add still available? Send an email to Hanks.gilbert1 .com he is interested. I am just helping him out."
I emailed Hanks and I got the same email about being in the Air Force and buying it for his brother. I emailed him back and told him I found the email on a scam website. I texted the number back and told him the same thing.

I received this :-
I'm on deployment , I texted you from the camp sms, the shipper will come for the pick up after the payment cleared , kindly get back to me with your paypal email address .

More ranked officers, I am curious about military tech though since they let them use phone apps on laptops. I use my phone for my phone apps and my laptop for my laptop apps. I am so far behind.

Thanks for getting back to me, I am Sgt currently deployed to a remote area until ? November 30. Can you assure me that it's in good state as it appears and that i will not be disappointed with it It is strictly no calls here due to security reasons, otherwise I would have called you to seal the deal,but i can actually try to use my phone applications to text you with my laptop.I have read through your ad and from what I have seen,it is priced favorably compared to others so I want you to consider it sold to me ''AS IS'' for the asking price but you have to assure me it is as described. I am comfortable paying you 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, Pick Address and Mobile #) so that I can initiate the payment. If you don't have a PayPal account kindly set one up because it is absolutely free. Furthermore, I will hire shipper that will come for the pickup, and also do the necessary paperwork on my behalf as soon as we are done with the payment part of the transaction.I'll like to see more recent pictures if you still have. If you don't , then lets proceed. Thanks

We received the same scam. Thank you for getting back to me, Do you have the extra keys, Do you have the spare tire, Where did you get your car serviced, Have you ever had any transmission repairs and Is there any rust on the vehicle? I'm ready to pay your asking price but not cash in person because I am serving in the US army and currently been deploy to NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany and calls are restricted at the moment and my only quickest payment option is PayPal, its safe fast and secure and i will be responsible for the PayPal transaction charges so you can get your 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 my dad 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:
Phone Number-
Zip code for pickup

Thanks

Yup. Same thing w/ military, "Gary". I played along for awhile on phone/text, just to waste his time. Had a 2nd one asking questions that I clearly already had on ad. Finally I doubled the price and they agreed & threw in shipping. I responded shipping was included. When I respond COD, NO PayPal SCAMS. I never hear back from them. Had to change my ad to include that. They are quick, pouncing. No more scammers contacting me :)

this is the email I got from James Wiltord in response to a Craigslist post to sell a car:

Thanks for your response, I am sorry I am not available to view due to the nature of my job, I am in the United States Army and serve as a CBRN Specialist (74D). I want to buy this for my Son as a Birthday Surprise gift and he doesn't know about it, .I am currently deployed wont be back till December. I am OK with your asking price and if you don't mind, I can only pay through PayPal at the moment because its 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, its pretty easy to set up at www. paypal. com.

I also have a few questions for you. Whats its condition, any damages? Are you the original owner and Why are you selling it? and last asking price? I hope you consider my offer. I am ready to buy, so you can take the add off . I'll have a courier person come for pick up and storage after I make payment and money is in your hand. Thanks for understanding, hope to read from you soon

This just happened to me. Guy called himself Sargent Kevin Bright. When I questioned the extra money and I would not call, meet or give anyone any money he threatened me with the FBI. OMG REALLY? Pathetic!

Thanks for all your posts. It saved me from making a big mistake today trying to sell my car.

Reading the comments above was almost like re-reading my emails related over the last 24 hours. It only takes one day to be sucked into these scams! How can these rougues be stopped and, in particular, are we making enough effort in spreading a cautionary word to all our friends. It is also easy to see why older people, who may be seen as good trusting people, may be targeted.
Thanks for getting back, i'm cool with the price likewise the condition as described on the advert, I work on a remote mine site in Darwin NT and the reception is terrible. We do not have access to phone at the moment, which is why i contacted you with internet messaging facility.
Regarding the payment,i will be paying you through PayPal linked up with my ANZ bank account, please get back to me with your paypal details so i can process the payment. You can alternatively send your BSB and Account number you can receive a direct deposit into your bank account from Instant PayPal Bank Wire Transfer.
I have also contacted my private courier service who will come for pick up and deliver it to my place in NT after the whole fund has been cleared into your bank account.” Sound familiar? Thank you all as you saved me from a very embarrassing situation.

ONE SMART AUSSIE! I got this exact same e-mail in response to a mattress set I am trying to sell. I got suspicious when the guy claimed he didn’t have any phone access yet was able to correspond with me by SMS and e-mail within 3 hours of my posting my item. My suspicions were futher raised when he said he would be able to contact his bank or PayPal and his courier within minutes of me approving his purchase. I wondered how this would be possible without a phone or computer in outback Darwin. I, also, would never purchase a mattress set sight unseen, and I would definitely never give my account details to an individual I have never met. SELLERS-BEWARE OF THIS PERSON.

My guy’s name was Thomas R Valys and he wanted the additional money sent to his courier’s bank account, Malik Umar in Paris, via Western Union. Does this sound familiar? He was working in a remote mining area near Darwin ... happy with full price, insisted on sending his Private Courier Service to collect the purchased items, at the outrageously high price of $580 and despite me suggesting far easier options. Yes, wanted to use PayPal, and that is when I thought that I had better look into this carefully and do a little research - and I found you! Won’t mention some glaring mistakes he made during the selling period in case he and his cronies read this column. Grateful that you all took the time to tell your stories in order to alert others to this greedy, outrageous and shameful scamming, particularly when targeting older people.

I checked at my local Post Office about the scammer’s Western Union service instructions, asking whether the PO manager was aware of such activity after items had been ‘sold’ through advertising on well publicised websites. As he is only one of about 20 WU agents in a relatively small city, he responded that they saw this type of request ‘all the time’. He always warned people that, if the seller did not know the purchaser, NEVER forward money anywhere - which is only common sense after all. Imagine the breadth and scope of this particular scam, worldwide! I reported the fake Email documents to both PayPal and the Trading Post. Try to count the number of people who have written about their experiences on this website alone, over many years too, and obviously from the same source! As I write, emails are still arriving from Thomas R VALYS, asking whether I had heard from WU yet and that he was ‘waiting to read back from me’. Straight to the bin unopened!

Same communication I dont believe it: OH Okay, I am satisfied with the condition and your answers to my questions. I'm interested in making the purchase. Im presently at the Pentagon washington DC US Army base and I've been here for some time and due to my new job. I wont be able to come for it, I will have a pick up agent come for it on my behalf,? I request this transaction be done via PayPal and the PayPal charges are on me, so I will like to proceed with my payment. Do let me know if you have a paypal account. Sgt Dailey

I am ready to sell vehicle....just now got emails with same wording as those in this thread. When I was in Army years ago, I never had money to buy my brother a vehicle for his birthday! I'm disappointed in scam creeps.
I'm really glad I checked this site first....

I'm re-posting since I don't see mine...
I'm selling vehicle, and I just got the emails with IDENTICAL portions of comments on this thread. Mine's a E5-SGT. I am so glad I checked here first...and I'm disappointed with scam creeps. Using our military?

When I was in Army...no way did I have the cash to buy anyone a vehicle for their birthday!!

I just went through the same thing with a Jordan Bolhuis@ responding to a motorcycle for sale. Identical canned language. E5 in the Army buying for a surprise birthday gift for his brother. I smelled a rat from the beginning.

jordanbolhuis @gmail. com.. is that his email? I'm selling a truck an someone responded saying to contact Jordan at that email that he would be interested an she was just helping with his search. I sent an email an got back an email from him... Copy an paste

Thanks for your e-mail Emily, First and foremost, I would like to introduce myself being in the military. My name is Jordan Bolhuis, but I go by my last name. I serve for the United States Army, I am currently not in town at the moment. I am the Captain of the The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) I am deployed and stationed out of Eglin AFB in Valparaiso, FL. We are not allowed to make or receive calls frequently as phones communication are limited but we do have internet access and that is our major means of communication to the outside world. So let’s get back to business! I'm purchasing it for my brother as a birthday gift and he's not aware of me doing this because am making it a surprise. So can you assure me I won't be disappointed buying this from you?

Also, I do have a few questions I would love to ask you about it. Any damages? What's it condition? Are you the first owner? Does it have any mechanical issues? Would love to know the reason why selling it? Do you have the title in hand? Is there a lien on the title? (If yes) how much you are owing? Do you have a verified account with PayPal? Do you have any offer's yet? Looking forward to read back from you and I hope you can respond and answer my questions appropriately in your next e-mail.

Posted my used car yesterday. Within 1 day 3 replies saying they Were VERY interested but can only pay w PayPal. Don’t want to see the car and willing to pay asking or above. Also not able to come by due to work schedule. HUGE red flags.

(306) 700-1683 text me about a car. He said "Am a military man and am currently at the Air Man In El Paso Texas camp i only have access to my paypal account...I will have the hauler to come pick it up after payment have been made and cleared to you Once you link the Card with your PayPal account you will cash it out through it. So do get back to me with your PayPal email for the payment transfer"

He even sent a photo.

Please be careful!

Paypal: I recently made a purchase through a site and signed into my Paypal account and paid. I called the seller and he stated he can see the money but cannot access it. I called Paypal and spoke with Jacob and supervisor Lester. Even though I made my payment through Paypal it was considered a personal payment (even though I was purchasing a product) and they will not refund my money. So the seller cannot get the money, I cannot get the money back and I was told by Jacob that it will stay in the account for a certain time then go into Paypal treasury?? Really? How was I know to know that this type of payment was not covered? I purchased a lot of items using Paypal. Please beware of this type of scams by a well know company.

Just got this today. Phone number 616-228-7166

Sound good I'm just asking about it to make sure it's in good condition, Am stationed at Air National Guard base, Battle Creek Michigan. I would have loved to see this item but am presently busy here at the base but I have a private pick up agent that will come for it at your location after the payment is cleared. 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? I will be deploying a pickup firm as soon as we have completed and finalized this deal via PayPal. Kindly get back to me with your PayPal info and also have the posting deleted Asap.

Your PayPal e-Mail Address :
PayPal Acct Name:
Firm Price:
Home Address/ Pickup location Info:
Phone number:
Remove the item from Ad

Thanks

I got the same exact email today from timothypatrick042 @ gmail.com John Paul 07:36 (14 hours ago) to me

Sound good I'm just asking about it to make sure it's in good condition, Am stationed at Air National Guard base, Battle Creek Michigan. I would have loved to see this item but am presently busy here at the base but I have a private pick up agent that will come for it at your location after the payment is cleared. 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? I will be deploying a pickup firm as soon as we have completed and finalized this deal via PayPal. Kindly get back to me with your PayPal info and also have the posting deleted Asap. Your PayPal e-Mail Address : PayPal Acct Name: Firm Price: Home Address/ Pickup location Info: Phone number: Remove the item from Ad Thanks

I received this today so it is still in circulation. BEWARE.
It was the exact same email.

I think PayPal is not a good company, their policies favor scammers more than genuine sellers. They once collaborated with a scammer to defraud me 650$ saying that the buyers card company wants a refund

I just rececived this email something sounds fishy !!!!

Thanks for your mail and am satisfy with the add and the listed price, I am ready to buy it now for my son as a surprise promise gift,And due to the nature of my work,phone calls making and visiting of website are restricted but i squeezed out time to check this advert and send you an email regarding it.i would be glad to pay for it as soon as possible though i will not be available to come for an inspection due to my tight schedule.Kindly get back to me with the following questions below: 1) Are you the Owner? 2) Pick up Location? 3) Your PayPal Email ID to effect the payment 4)your asking price for confirmation 5)Phone Number I will only be paying you via PayPal as that is the only method of my payment due to the nature of my job Thanks and God bless Hello,

Same thing with a Respetfully, SGT E-5 Mark Lam Sending e-mails by gmail. I think my e-mail account is much more secure than his LOL

I received a email yesterday much the same I have a car for sale on don deal the buyer allegedly wants to buy but can’t come himself due to his work he will send someone to pick it up I have to have a pay pal account so he can transfer money to it he do t do banking on line his name is allegedly Adrienne Mathias lives in Donetsk

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