PayPal Email Scam – Web Site Version

A Fight Identity Theft visitor recently forwarded us a copy of the Pay Pal scam email below. We were able to track down where the scam site was hosted and have it shut down within about 5 minutes. We also located where the stolen information was being sent from the web site and notified PayPal to make sure they shut down that site and contacted any affected customers.

What To Do if You Receive an Email Like This

  • DO NOT respond to the email or enter any personal information. If you’ve already entered information, quickly go to our How to Report a Scam page.
  • Forward the email to spoof@paypal.com. PayPal will immediately work to shut down the scam site.
  • Forward the email to spam@uce.gov. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will place your email in a database and use the combined information to track down and prosecute the scammer/spammers.

This kind of scam has been around for a long time. The scammers send an email to you telling you there’s a problem with your PayPal account and that you need to login to correct it. Here’s what the email looks like.

Once you look it over, go on to see what the fake PayPal web site looks like:

Important Note: Here’s where the scammers get tricky. The link text says https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr/?cmd=_login-run. It looks legitimate. It looks like you will be sent to the secure PayPal site. But you won’t.

Click this link – https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr/?cmd=_login-run

Oops! We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto. Very important point. The text of a link can say anything. Where it points to can be completely different. Don’t pay any attention to the link text. You have to pay attention to the address bar in your browser (see our test on our Scams and Fraud homepage).

Also see an email version | How to report a scam

Here is the text from the Paypal page:

Dear Paypal User,

Today we had some trouble with one of our computer systems. While the trouble appears to be minor, we are not taking any chances. We decided to take the troubled system offline and replace it with a new system. Unfortunately this caused us to lose some member data. Please follow the link below and log into your account to make sure your information is not affected. Account balances have not been affected.

Because of the inconvenience this causes we are giving all users that repair their missing data their next two incoming transfers for free! You will pay no fees for your next two incoming transfers*.

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr/?cmd=_login-run

Thank you for using PayPal!

* – If fees would normally apply, you will not pay anything for the next two incoming transfers you receive.

PayPal Security

PROTECT YOUR PASSWORD
NEVER give your password to anyone and ONLY log in at PayPal’s website. If anyone asks for your password, please follow the Security Tips instructions on the PayPal website.

Author: Dave Nielsen

I started using computers in 1978 on the Apple II and was first online (using my “high-speed” 1200 baud modem) in 1989. I’ve managed web sites for several Fortune 500 companies and for internet start-ups. Working for one of those start-ups is what brought me into the world of credit. I was part of the the executive team that ran QSpace, the first company to offer credit reports over the internet.

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