Scheme Targets Online Sellers, PayPal Users - WBAY

Target 2 Consumer Alert

Scheme Targets Online Sellers, PayPal Users

Updated:

If you do any online selling, beware of a scheme that's targeting several online auction sites and PayPal.

"The email was 'we have your funds' and I said, 'yes' and then everything happened."

Adam Perkins 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 $500.00 and got a buyer right away.

"I got an email from PayPal saying, 'we have your funds,'" said Adam.

The buyer asked Adam and his mother to send the laptop immediately.

"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," said Susan McConnell, Adam's mother.

Fortunately, they missed the deadline for overnight shipping, which helped them unravel a massive scheme.
 
When they took a second look at the notice allegedly sent from PayPal, it was full of grammatical and spelling errors.

"There was a line in there that most people would have picked up on. We did not," said McConnell. "'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.

"I was angry," said McConnell. "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.

"That's somebody stealing money from your kid. And you know, don't get between a mother and her children," said McConnell.

Investigators say the scheme starts with the suspect buying an item.

"She would use a 'Buy It Now' option. She would find out the seller's email address and send a phony mail purporting to be from PayPal," said Laura Carter, U.S. Postal Inspector.

The note would say the funds had been sent to the seller's account.  But 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.

"See if there is anything from PayPal, because they do send you an email to your account, not just your email," said Carter.

Adam and his mom learned a valuable lesson.

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

"Your trust is being violated and someone has stolen something from you and it's a stomach churning feeling," said McConnell. "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."

The suspect in this case was caught and returned much of the merchandise to the victims involved.
 
Here are some red flags that postal inspectors say you should be on the lookout for:

  • An immediate purchase of the 'Buy It Now' price with no questions asked.
  • A request for overnight shipping, similar to what happened to Adam and his mom.
  • Always be suspicious of PayPal notices sent to your email.

 

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