New flavor of Paypal scam with unsolicited payments (PSA and what could be going on?)

I have a small online business with physical goods and regularly receive payments through my business Paypal account. Never had a major issue with scammers on Paypal until now.

Within the span of 24h, I received 16 unsolicited G&S payments of between ~$10-40, coming from legitimate-looking names (some verified). All had unconfirmed shipping addresses from multiple countries (US, Canada, Mexico, Australia), and all the associated emails were super sus (random strings of letters/numbers at hotmail or 163 domains).

After the first three, I contacted Paypal’s customer support through the Message Center since it was after business hours. It wasn’t helpful, told me to message or call during normal business hours for an agent. In the meantime, I changed my account settings to block payments from un-confirmed shipping addresses, but I still continued to receive more payments in the wee hours from unverified/unconfirmed accounts. I also changed my password and enabled 2FA.

After messaging as soon as their business hours opened, the chatbot said an agent would respond within a couple hours. In the interim, I received an email: “We recently notified you that a payment you received was made without the account holder’s permission or was the result of a transaction error,” and a dispute was opened.

I then called the helpline and was put through to an agent relatively quickly. They recommended that I refund the claimant and all the unsolicited payments. After proceeding with the first refund, I realized I was still being saddled with the transaction fees. (For example, if I received $20, Paypal took say $1 in payment fees and $19 hits my account. If I issue a refund on the transaction, the buyer receives $20 and I’m out the $1.)

I called back and got a different agent, who was reversed all transactions in the prior 24h on my behalf and refunded the fees. I also confirmed that my account settings were changed to block payments with unconfirmed addresses.

A few hours later, I did get an email that the case resolved in favor of the buyer and that Paypal refunded their money. I double checked, and it does appear that the refund/reversal only came out of my account once.

My best guess is that credit card numbers were stolen and used to open new Paypal accounts (with an associated bank account?). Money was then sent to random people drawn against the credit card. When the recipient refunds or reverses the transaction, maybe the funds hit the Paypal account and are withdrawn to the scammer’s bank account, who then closes the Paypal account.

Anyways, be careful everyone. I expect to see an uptick in scams as we enter the holiday season.


The content was posted by mvmgems on 2021-11-11 21:53:30 via reddit

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  1. carolineecouture says:

    Thanks for posting this. I’m confused, though. Can someone send you a payment at random? It really sounds like someone is trying to scam you the same way the “I sent you money by mistake” scams work. Is that right? How would you fight this, manually approve each payment after contacting the purchaser? Ugh, I’m so sorry this is happening to you and your business.

  2. Update:

    Three more payments got through. PayPal caught one early and reversed it before it hit my account. I called PayPal and got the other two reversed, and asked if there were any options to block all payments except by invoice. That feature unfortunately does not yet exist, so I submitted feedback to request it.

    In the meantime, my best course of action is to keep on top of my account activity and call in as soon as unsolicited payments appear.

    Luckily, I’ve not had any more show up in the last 36h.

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