I-Team 10 Consumer Alert: PayPal Deception

Posted at: 08/01/2013 5:25 PM
Updated at: 08/01/2013 5:31 PM
By: Brett Davidsen

A fake PayPal scam is costing consumers a lot of cash and some big headaches. The new scheme is usually linked to online auction users.

It comes in the form of an email purporting to be from PayPal, the online money transfer site. That's why it pays to pay attention to detail because a scammer's bad grammar is all that prevented a boy and his mother from losing hundreds of dollars.

Adam is learning an adult lesson at a young age. The 15-year-old decided to sell his laptop on eBay after he got a new iPad. He listed the computer for $500 and got a buyer right away.

Adam Perkins said, "I got an email from PayPal saying we have your funds."
The buyer asked Adam and his mother to send the laptop immediately.

Susan McConnell said, "He said, “It's my son's birthday and we'd love for you to overnight it.' So we broke our backs trying to send it."
Fortunately, they missed the Friday deadline for overnight shipping, which helped them unravel a massive scam. When they took a second look at the notice allegedly sent from PayPal, it was full of grammatical and spelling errors. The word customer was spelled with an "o”.

McConnell said, "There was a line in there that most people would have picked up on. We did not.  If you're selling a bunch of stuff, a bunch of stuff, not something like legitimate language for PayPal."
Now, they knew there was a problem.
McConnell said, “I was angry. I spent 48 hours sleuthing. I pretty much did everything I could because I was really determined."
They immediately called postal inspectors who issued a mail recall and kept the package from being delivered.
McConnell said, "That's somebody stealing money from your kid and you know don't get between a mother and her children."
Here is how the scam works.  First, the suspect buys an item.
Laura Carter, U.S. Postal Inspector, said, "She would use a 'buy it now' option. She would find out the seller's email address and send a phony mail pretending to be from PayPal."
The note would say the funds had been sent to the seller's account. In reality, no payment was made. The suspect ends up with the merchandise without paying a cent. Inspectors recommend always logging in and checking your PayPal account.

Carter said, "See if there is anything from PayPal because they do send you an email to your account not just your email."
Adam and his mom also learned a valuable lesson.

Perkins said, "I've learned you have to check someone's user rating, their history on eBay."

McConnell said, "Your trust is being violated and someone has stolen something from you and it's a stomach churning feeling. You feel foolish that you weren't smart enough to pick that up and you feel violated and even more so if it's your kid."

Postal inspectors say when using auction sites and PayPal, be wary of an immediate purchase at the "buy it now" price with no questions asked and requests for overnight shipping. Again, always check your PayPal account.