Top 7 PayPal Scams to Be Aware of in 2020

in Cybersecurity
PayPal Scams

PayPal scams continue to plague the internet as cybercriminals attempt to find ways to defraud individuals and businesses.

In this article, we look at a list of the most common PayPal scams and provide advice on how to avoid them.

1. Get A “Free” PayPal Account

As crazy as it sounds, one of the most popular PayPal scams targets users who haven’t signed up for the platform yet.

The scam starts with a seemingly good samaritan asking to create a free PayPal account on your behalf. It usually seems very legitimate, but there is a catch. The scammer will proceed to send you a link to a PayPal registration page that will collect your details for the creation of the account.

These sites are phishing sites that are made to look like legitimate PayPal pages. They collect very important information like your full name, location, billing address, credit card details, driver’s license number, and other financial data.

When scammers collect this much information, they could use it for anything on the internet, including identity theft and making purchases from your credit card.

2. An Advanced Fee Scam

An advanced fee scam is also popular among PayPal scams. The classic narrative includes an individual who seems to have a precious possession that they need your help to clear.

At this point, they will tell you they have to pay an advanced fee to unfreeze or clear their PayPal account, which they cannot do without you. In return, they promise to give you a large cut of the money made from the sale of the product.

3. Fake Invoice

In this PayPal scam, an invoice pops up based on something you never ordered or on a product you recently checked out. The invoice looks very legitimate and is hard to tell apart from an original invoice.

The invoice contains a link that then takes you to a phishing site that collects your data for the scammers.

4. The Shipment Never Arrived

Paypal scams are sometimes targeted at merchants and sellers. Scammers come to your site to place an order and pay with PayPal. Everything will seem alright until you lose your money and goods.

During checkout, the scammer will provide a fake delivery address that will cause the shipping company to list the product us initially “undeliverable.” Later on, the scammer will provide the right address and receive the product. However, the same person will report you to PayPal for failing to deliver the product.

Without proof on your end that you delivered it to the first address, Seller Protection will come in and release the funds back to the buyer.

5. Ship It To My Friend, It’s A Secret

This PayPal scam includes you helping a scammer surprise a “friend.” Very similar to the shipment never arrived scam, a scammer will contact you that they want to buy a product on your site.

Further, the scammer will plead with you to ship the product to a different address from their PayPal shipping address. The reason for this change, according to the scammer, is because they want to surprise a friend celebrating a birthday or wedding.

Unfortunately, if you fall for this story and you send the product to the person, the scammer will then file a report to PayPal, stating that you scammed them.

6. Fake Charities

Have you ever been hit up to send money to a “dying child in a developing country?” A lot of fake charities send emails to PayPal users claiming to be collecting money on behalf of the needy in society.

It is usually rampant during natural disasters. Scammers capitalize on the emotion of the moment to push people to give money. However, the money collected by these scammers goes straight into their pockets.

Also, unless you have given your email to a charity or NGO, they won’t send you an email. Emails from organizations you have never interacted with is most likely a scam.

7. Get Lower Fees Paypal Alternative

There are several PayPal alternatives, yet people use PayPal because it has particular features that protect the buyer.

This PayPal Scam introduces an alternative to you as a more affordable option for paying for a product. For instance, when you want to pay for a product on a site, the scammer will create an alert asking you to use another payment method like Western Union.

The usual excuse is that the alternative charges lesser fees or using that alternative gives you a discount. After making payments, the goods never arrive. You won’t be able to get your money back because the payment system doesn’t have a fail-safe system like PayPal.

How to Prevent PayPal Scams

PayPal Scam

Protecting your account against PayPal scams is as important as recognizing these scams when they hit you. Basic things like “avoid sharing your PayPal account details” is something every user is aware of.

Here are more ways to prevent PayPal Scams:

1. Don’t Open Spam

Avoid opening spam messages. Especially messages that have “PayPal” in the title or are somehow linked to money.

Also, in situations where the email bypasses the spam filter, you should avoid opening suspicious links. Any PayPal activity should be done on the official website and not other look-alike sites.

2. Greed Will Cost You

We like to look for opportunities that will make us or save us money. Unfortunately, any offer that seems to be too good to be true is most likely a scam.

Be careful of the emails with language like “buy now,” “hurry up,” “get free money here,” and “claim money now.”

3. Don’t Ship To Another Address

If a buyer tells you to send goods to an address different from what is in the transaction form, you should decline it.

It is most likely a scam that will cause you to lose your money and products. Inform the buyer that you will not be able to do that and cancel their order if they insist.

Finally, check your PayPal account frequently and keep tabs on PayPal’s latest policies to avoid being outsmarted by scammers.

How to Respond to a Sextortion Email

in Hacking
sextortion email

Sextortion emails have become commonplace as a way to blackmail people into parting with their money. Most people are unaware of what a sextortion scam is and how these tricksters carry out their operation.

In this guide, you will learn what a sextortion email is and how you should respond to one.

What is a Sextortion Email?

A sextortion scam email is a threat made by a scammer who claims to have filmed you through your webcam while you were consuming pornographic content and claims to release that footage if they are not paid in bitcoin.

Here, you can see two examples of the sextortion emails that were sent to our editor-in-chief.


In the case of the sextortion scam, hackers will usually claim to have hacked your email account or gained access to your computer through other means. And these emails are sometimes sent randomly, even to those who have never visited a pornography site.

Anyone who believes these threats and sends money to these tricksters is falling victim to fraud. Now the question is, what can you do with such emails?

Simple. Ignore them!

Additionally, there are a number of safety precautions you can take when you receive such emails.

Avoid Attachments

Sextortion scam emails can come with a link to an attachment that you would be asked to click on. A mistake some people make is to open the link. That act can give hackers access to your computer, thereby putting them in a better position to blackmail.

Avoid opening the links or attachment sent to you because it will either redirect you to a fake website, which will make your system open to malware or you may end up giving them your personal information.

Don’t Comply With Their Demands

Sextortion scam emails don’t come without demands. These scammers will always request that you pay them a certain amount of money to keep them from spreading videos or images of you watching pornography.

Fortunately, these emails are empty threats. So, don’t give in to their demands and just ignore the email.

Do a Security Check

After receiving such emails, you could run a security check on your computer for peace of mind.

The check is to ensure you have not downloaded a file automatically when you opened the email. That could create a loophole for hackers to penetrate your computer. You should also immediately delete and ban the email address. You can also install security software on your computer or mobile device for added security.

Google the Email Sent to you

You can easily find out if such an email has already been identified as a scam. You can copy one or two sentences of the email sent and paste in the Google search box to search the web.

Usually, other people have gotten the same email and have reported it on social media or in forums.

Do Not Respond

The best way to respond to a sextortion email scam is for you not to respond at all. If you happen to get such messages, ignore them or delete them from your inbox.

Sextortion emails can be scary for first-time recipients. A threat to release embarrassing videos and images could negatively impact one’s reputation. But do not be deceived by these emails, they are only out to extort money from you.

The best way to respond to these emails is not to respond at all and delete them.

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