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E-Mail Phishing & PayPal Scams

Amanda Bar
I was recently checking my e-mail when I came upon this peculiar message:


Apparently a purchase had been attempted on my PayPal account for $440!  Naturally I clicked on the "Dispute Transaction" link conveniently scattered throughout the e-mail, but when I was redirected to the PayPal website I was immediately taken to a page which required all of my account information - my full name, address, and my credit card information.  (DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! DANGER!)  Working at a police department where I handle fraud cases all the time, I recognized a scam when I saw one.  I promptly forwarded PayPal security the e-mail and changed my login password for good measure.  Before I continue it is important to note: do not use the PayPal web address listed in the e-mail!  If the e-mail is a scam the link will redirect you to a fake PayPal that looks nearly identical to the real thing; open a new window and manually type in www.paypal.com.

These phishing scams are designed to put you, the target, in fear over a supposed charge made on your account - oftentimes people become so overwhelmed at correcting this false transaction that they don't use proper sense when handing out their personal information over websites.  There are some very telling clues, however, that you can look for in order to verify whether you're the victim of a spoof e-mail; the first thing I noticed was that there was no transaction ID - all PayPal payments come with a numerical identification number.  There was also no link back to the product I had supposedly purchased - as I said, I am a frequent eBay shopper and all e-mails contain links back to the product in question.  Also, and most importantly, I checked both my PayPal and Bank of America accounts - despite the e-mails claim, no transaction was listed in regards to a $440 purchase. 

My account had never been compromised, it turns out, but it easily could have if I had fallen for this well-made scheme.  Both the e-mail and the fake PayPal site looked legit at first glance, but it could have cost me big if I hadn't taken the time to investigate.  Take this as a warning to all of you PayPal/online shoppers!  For more information on how to spot a scam e-mail, go here.

Posted by Amanda Conwell at 02:40 PM on August 25, 2009 in Banking | Permalink | Facebook | Digg | del.icio.us | AIM


Bridget Carey

Great advice. This is the season where these scams ramp up. Always be wary of clicking on strange URLS or e-mails like this.

Sometimes these scammers try to make the URL and website look legit... like "paypal.somethingrandom.com" ... but it's a fake. Always check to make sure a site is secure before sending any information. You can check a site's authenticity by clicking on that lock symbol in your browser.

Rick Caird

I just hover over the link and it gets expanded (in Outlook), so I can check it is going where I expect it to go. I love the ones that say something like paypal.com.ru. Never trust those Rumanians.



good article, i have already gotten two or three of these paypal emails, but I knew it was a scam. It said for security measures my account was suspended and i need to enter all my info again...yeah right

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