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Scammers Stole $250 From Musician's PayPal Account, But He Couldn't Get A Refund

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The pandemic can particularly difficult for gig workers; even harder if a scammer drains your PayPal account.

A North Side musician said that's what happened to him, and PayPal wouldn't give him a refund, until CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas got involved.

Andre Robert's gigs might be cancelled, but he's still teaching virtual lessons and producing at his home studio. To get paid for that, he uses PayPal.

"Kind of where I do a lot of my business," he said.

Robert got an email about a month ago from PayPal, saying he had drained nearly $250 from his account.

That's a song he didn't recognize, so he looked into it, and learned the cash withdrawal happened at an undisclosed Walmart.

He couldn't remember the last time he'd shopped at a Walmart.

PayPal opened a fraud case for Robert, but a few days later he got an email in which PayPal denied his claim, and said "this transaction was not unauthorized."

"Obviously it's not me if I'm making this much of a fuss about it and contacting them daily. I don't know what their reason is for saying it was me," he said.

He filed a police report, and reached out to Walmart, who said he'd have to deal with PayPal.

On PayPal's community forum, we found more than a dozen posts over the past couple years from other people saying thieves somehow withdrew cash from their accounts at a Walmart.

Like Robert, many of them complained that PayPal denied their fraud claims, at least on their first attempt.

But the company's website says "you aren't liable for unauthorized purchases made from your account."

"I hope they can realize they're not being diligent, and not doing a very good job at all to help people in my situation," Robert said.

We called PayPal right after our interview with Robert.

Robert said, within a couple hours, they reached out to him again, this time with a new tune.

"We have determined the payments in question were unauthorized and have refunded the full amount," they told him.

He said that was the first time he'd heard from them since they denied his request on June 19.

PayPal could not tell us how the fraud happened, and they sent us a statement that did not explain how they made the mistake of denying his claim. They also said they'd look into the other complaints we found.

We also reached out Walmart asking how this happened, and they haven't gotten back to us.

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