Consumer Alert: PayPal scams - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Consumer Alert: PayPal scams

More than 165 million people use PayPal to pay for their online transactions, and if you're not careful, you could fall victim to a scam.


Lauren Seaman decided to sell her MacBook on Craigslist for $800 to get some extra cash.

"I got a call from a random guy. He could barely speak English. He told me he was going to give me $950 for it," said Lauren.

She was thrilled. The man explained that Lauren would need to open a PayPal account because he lived out of the country and sent her a link to show her how to do it.

"He was like, 'Now you need to send it to me,' and I'm like, 'Where is my money?' So he says he sent it to my account. I went on PayPal. I didn't even think to call customer service or anything, so I went on there and it said plus $950," said Lauren.

Lauren prepared the package to send to Nigeria and headed to the post office where the clerk questioned its destination.

"The guy said 'you're sending this to Nigeria?'" said Lauren with a sinking feeling.

"Something is not right here. That guy didn't have to say this, and just the tone of his voice and the attitude he was giving me," said Lauren.


When she got home, she called PayPal.


"They said, Ma'am, I just want you to know there is no money in your account,'" said Lauren.

She then raced back to the post office and told her story.

"I said, 'I think I have been scammed.' They were able to stop the package from going out of the country," said Lauren.

She also met with postal inspectors. It turns out, the PayPal link the man in Nigeria sent Lauren was bogus.

"A spoof or some kind of communication with Lauren, make her believe that PayPal received payment from the buyer in Nigeria," said David Frederick, a U.S. Postal Inspector.

Lauren says she will never sell anything online again.

"Be careful when you are dealing online with overseas buyers. Once a package leaves the U.S. there is very little the postal inspection or anyone can do," said Frederick.

That's why you need to be very careful with any online transaction. If you are sending money orders or checks, be sure they clear your bank before you turn over what you're selling.

Click here to learn more about PayPal scams.


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