I’ve seen plenty of Paypal-related scams, but this one is the slickest I’ve encountered to date. Pay attention and don’t be fooled if this shows up on your doorstep:
The Scam Arrives
You’ll see this scam arrive either in your inbox as an email, or in your Paypal account as a transaction under Activity.
Are you a believer yet? I wouldn’t blame you, because this is not your typical fake-email. This is an authentic Paypal email, and it takes you to the true Paypal website to view a real Paypal invoice! Nothing has been spoofed or faked here. The Paypal invoice can even be downloaded as a PDF from their website. The only lie is what’s shown in the Seller’s Notes field.
What is truly afoot here is that someone’s Paypal account has been stolen and is being used to send payment requests. Paypal calls them “invoices”, and that terminology only serves to make the scam look even more important.
The Two-Fold Danger
You’re at risk from two different directions with this scam. Make sure you don’t get taken by either of these:
- The cybercriminal is trying to trick you into paying the bill with a quick click.
- The crook wants you to object to the bill and call the phone number listed in the Seller Notes.
For anyone moving too quickly and not thinking enough, #1 quickly puts $500 in the thieves’ pocket. The money will be transferred into gift cards or other untraceable ratholes, and the victim will have a hard time clawing that money back.
#2 leads to a typical remote support scam. If you call the number, you’ll talk to a scammer who will seek to remotely access your computer, steal your money and possibly bork your PC.
In short: do NOT pay this bill, and do NOT call the listed phone number.
What To Do With This Hybrid Scam
First, be very careful as you deal with this. Make sure to avoid any “Pay Invoice” button. It’s safe to view the invoice and other screens in your Paypal account, but you must not accidentally pay the scammer.
Next, much like with an accidental payment scam, you can simply ignore the invoice. Nothing bad will happen if you simply do nothing with this Paypal item. It will sit there inert, until some day when Paypal catches up and removes it.
Alternatively, you can cancel the invoice. Sign into your account at Paypal.com, click on Activity, and select the scam invoice. Right below the blue Pay button, you may safely click on “Cancel Invoice”.
Lastly, you may reach out to Paypal support, if you want them to know about the scam attempt. Once you’re logged in at Paypal.com, scroll to the bottom of the site and look for the Contact link. Click it and make use of the Call Us or Message Us options to reach out to them.