Catch Of The Week: Paypal Scams

Los Alamos

Sometimes my cat randomly knocks stuff off the table, and I find myself thinking, “This is why I can’t have nice things.”

Well, similarly, scammers are why we can’t have nice things … Paypal offers a neat service, “Money Request” which is free and quite convenient if you need to request money from family and friends … or from strangers you are trying to scam. Yikes!

So how does this scam work? 

The scammer sets up a PayPal account, generally impersonating a real company (Many variations on bitcoin themes have been making the rounds) then uses the free money request feature to send out a request for payment.  They will spoof a legitimate company, possibly Bitcoin themed, so the sender appears to be that legitimate company. In addition, they will add a phone number to contact if you “think the order is in error”.

It might look something like this:

Courtesy/Becky RutherfordCourtesy/Becky Rutherford

Again, if you haven’t placed an order with the company, why would you be getting an invoice? And even if it’s a familiar company, say Amazon, why would they be sending an invoice via PayPal? So, you should be able to figure out right off the bat that this is fake. And yet there’s that phone number in the email, what should you do with that?

You might be tempted to contact them to ask what’s up … but don’t! They could try to use this as an opportunity to trick you into giving up personal information, or to allow them remote access to your computer to “fix” the issue. Never give anyone unknown to you access to your computer remotely. Once they have that they can do pretty much whatever they want.  

So, what should you do with scams like this?

The easiest thing would be to ignore them, but you can also report the scam to the FTC. It’s a small thing, but anything we can do to help stop these scammers is a good thing.

Just remember, if you get a fake invoice scam, do not interact with it either via email or phone. Definitely don’t pay the invoice! If you want to do something, report it to the FTC. Keep an eye out for these invoice scams, and more, as we get closer to the holidays. Don’t get caught in a phish! 

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