Attempt to swindle when selling through PayPal

We already know that we must be very careful to avoid scams when shopping on the Internet. But beware, the fraudsters’ ingenuity means that we can even be deceived when we try to make a sale using the PayPal payment method.

Intento de estafa al vender por medio de PayPal

Fake buyers check ads in the different Internet shopping sites where we publish our second-hand or new items and contact us. They send us any type of message showing interest in our article and proposing payment via PayPal.

As an example let’s look at one of those “hook” messages that I myself have received:

I am interested in the Motorbike on

My name is Miguel Garcia. I am originally from Spain. I visited Spanish last year, but now I am now in the United States for my job and I am usually busy at work. So I will not be able to come to Spain to see the bike. I am ready and willing to buy your motorcycle because it seems that it is in good condition. So therefore I will make the payment to your PayPal account and then I will ask my shipping company to come to your location to pick up the motorcycle. Do you understand?

 This transaction will go smoothly, so you have nothing to worry about. AGREE?

 This is how the transaction works…

 1st ….. I will pay money to your PayPal account

2th … And then, after you confirm the payment in your account, the shipping company will come to your address to pick up the motorcycle, AUTHORIZATION?

 And about the payment … I can only make the payment through PayPal because the shipping company refuses to come with cash and pays to you. They say it is against their legal responsibility to pay you. Therefore, I will pay through PayPal

 If you do not have a PayPal account, you can register your PayPal account online right now when you visit this PayPal website -> (this PayPal Website is translated into Spanish for your better understanding) PayPal is the easiest, fastest and safest method of transferring money.

 The only way I can make the payment is through PayPal. So you have to create a PayPal account. It is very easy to create a PayPal account.

 After I pay the money to your PayPal account, then I will tell the shipping company to come to your address and pick up the motorcycle. Do you understand?

 If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask me.

 Please do not sell this bike to anyone else. Sell it to me. I’m interested in buying it now.

 Thank you and I await your quick response.

The fake buyer is only interested in buying through PayPal

Depending on the data that we have contributed to the online sales service, the message can reach us through different means, although the most common will be to use e-mail as a means of communication. In this case, the data identifying the alleged interested buyer are:

  • Name: Miguel García
  • His e-mail:
  • Profile picture included, but surely it is stolen from the Internet, so it is not interesting

As we see in the message, the scammer is very interested in the payment being made through PayPal, will not accept any other means of payment.

Fortunately, the message itself and the characteristics of the item sold in this case make us immediately suspicious of the alleged buyer: Is a person abroad going to buy a motorcycle without seeing it? Is a company going to pick it up? And is the change of name and documentation necessary for this?

From afar you can “smell a rat” when he shows so much interest being so far away. Also, as with most online scam attempts, their language is full of grammatical errors unfit for someone who claims to be Spanish.

How does the scam work?

PayPal payments work in a very simple way. Simply by providing our PayPal registration email to someone, we are providing them with the means to make a deposit to our account without further problems.

The types of scams they could use are at least the following:

  1. The most widely used (phishing). They tell us that they have already paid us and attach a link for us to see it. This link leads us to a false but identical PayPal page where it show us that we have apparently collected the money.
    Advice: never access PayPal through links. We must access through a search or our favorites and make sure we are on the real page of this service.
  2. Phishing variant. If we do not have a PayPal account, they offer us a link that takes us to a false page where we will make a deceptive registration that will provide them with our personal data. It just pursues the theft of that data.
    Advice: As before, never follow email links or other messages to access sites with sensitive information.
  3. Shipping costs. They will tell us that they will pay the shipping costs and will let us know that they have already made the payment. We will immediately receive a fake email from PayPal telling us that a transfer is blocked for the total amount and that it will not be unblocked until we pay the amount for the shipment. They’re just looking to steal that amount from us. Once we pay, we will know nothing more about them.
    Advice: once again, confirm that the money has been deposited only by accessing the authentic page directly.
  4. Extra money. They make us believe that they overpaid us by accident. We show it to us through a link that leads to a fake PayPal page once again. The theft is that we pay them that difference by any means.
    Advice: Same as above. Let’s make sure we check our account on the real site.
  5. The worst of all! We are actually paid into our genuine PayPal account and we send the item we sell. After a while, PayPal withdraws the funds or claims them back because the payment was made from a stolen account and the money was therefore illegitimate. Apparently, PayPal does not cover the seller for cases like this. We and PayPal suffer the scam, but it is we as sellers who end up without the money and without the item shipped.
    Advice: distrust buyers who do not provide us with accurate information, such as address, telephone number, etc. Especially if they are abroad and/or propose an exaggeratedly easy and beneficial purchase.

These scam attempts often come from countries where legislation and police action are very relaxed. They know that complaints from other countries will not work in their country. The case of Nigeria, for example, is the source of so many scam attempts that the method used is known as the Nigerian scam.

However, anyone who has suffered a scam of this type must report it to the police. Who knows if it’s precisely our case that can help unmask some smart con artist.