12 On Your Side: PayPal email scam targets online seller

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News 12 at 6 o'clock / November 14, 2013


Anyone whose ever used PayPal knows that it is one of the most trusted internet sites for buying or selling items and some con artists are finding a new way to exploit it. "It's a Coachman Catalina trailer, 29 foot, one bedroom. It's what we used to go camping in," says John Yonce.

It is hardly used anymore which is why Yonce says he is advertising and hoping to find a buyer for the 2011 camper.

"I got a few bites but nobody is pulling the cork on it. They are just nibbling at it," says Yonce. On Monday Yonce says he got what he thought was his first real offer. "Boy I was really happy, I thought you know I could get out from under this camper," says Yonce.

He says the buyer, who claimed to be stationed at Travis Air Force Base in California, agreed to his asking price of $20,000 and then some.

"He wanted to pay me what I asked for it plus $950 shipping," says Yonce. And $380 in PayPal transaction fees. "He said that he would send the money by PayPal using his credit card," says Yonce.

But first, "he wanted me to wire him $950 to somebody in San Diego through Western Union. Yonce says his instincts warned him that something was wrong and that he was about to get scammed. He called PayPal and confirmed that it was all a hoax.

"They sent me emails that looked just like they were from PayPal, says Yonce. A closer inspection of that email reveals some warning signs.

For example PayPal will always address you in an email by using your first and last name, not your email address. Another red flag, PayPal emails don not contain poor grammar or mention the FBI to gain your confidence that a transaction is safe.

"They are just sitting around drinking coffee or Cokes and figuring out how to scam people," says Yonce. He says he is just glad he recognized the scam before it was too late.

"Gonna be really careful when I deal with someone else," says Yonce.

He sent News 12 a text he received this afternoon and wanted to know if it was a scam as well. Yes it was.

Some more advice: Be skeptical if someone wants to make an immediate purchase of the `buy it now` price with no questions asked.

Also any requests for overnight shipping and be wary of PayPal notices sent to your email.