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Don't fall prey to this PayPal scam

Some online sellers who have come to rely on PayPal to collect payment are being scammed with phony payment confirmations, the National Consumers League warned on Tuesday.

The organization, through its website, has been receiving reports from victims who have sent products, from iPads to shoes to wedding dresses, apparent buyers after believing they had been paid. Sellers were using sites including eBay and Craigslist. provided this example of a complaint from a victim:

I received an email notice from eBay that an item I had listed had sold. I received an email from PayPal saying the payment had been received and I should send the item. I shipped it, but after two days, the payment still had not cleared into my PayPal account. The next day, I received an email from eBay stating that the buyer's account had been hacked. It was a scam. By then, my item had already been delivered and I was unable to retrieve it.

PayPal includes this type of scam on its list of most common ways sellers can get ripped off. The eBay-owned payment service recommends that users always check their PayPal accounts directly to be sure they really were paid before sending an item.

Here are some other tips from the National Consumers League to avoid falling victim to this scam:

  • Review the buyer's eBay profile on eBay, and be skeptical if there are either no comments at all or negative ones.
  • Don't complete transactions outside of the marketplace where the sale was taking place. If the deal started on eBay, then be sure to have the transaction processed through eBay to take advantage of the protections that come with that.
  • Should an unknown buyer ask that you wire money to cover any costs, walk away. Requests to wire money (or put money onto a prepaid card) are signs of a possible scam.
  • Avoid any pressure to ship the item as soon as you get a PayPal confirmation email. That can be a way to push sellers to send the item before realizing they weren't really paid.
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