Teen falls victim to new PayPal scheme

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A PayPal scam is costing consumers a lot of cash and some big headaches. The new scheme is usually linked to online auction users and can be very deceiving.

"The email was 'we have your funds' and I said 'yes' and then everything happened," explained teenager Adam Perkins, victim of a PayPal scam.

The 15-year-old decided to sell his laptop on eBay after he got a new iPad. He listed the computer for $500 and got a buyer right away.

"I got an email from PayPal saying we have your funds," he said.

The buyer asked the teen and his mother to send the laptop immediately.

 "He said 'It's my son's birthday and we'd love for you to overnight it' so we broke our backs trying to send it," explained Susan McConnell, Perkin's mom.

Fortunately, they missed the Friday deadline for overnight shipping, which helped them unravel a massive scam.  When they took a second look at the notice allegedly sent from PaPal, it was full of grammatical and spelling errors. An example was the word "customer" was misspelled as "costumer."

"There was a line in there that most people would have picked up on -- we did not," said McConnell.  "If you're selling 'a bunch of stuff,' 'a bunch of stuff' -- not something like legitimate language for PayPal," said McConnell.

Now they knew there was a problem.

"I was angry. I spent 48 hours sleuthing," said McConnell.  "I pretty much did everything I could because I was really determined."

They immediately called Postal Inspectors who issued a mail recall and kept the package from being delivered.

"That's somebody stealing money from your kid… and you know don't get between a mother and her children," warned McConnell.

Here is how the scam works. First, the suspect buys an item.

"She would use a 'Buy It Now' option. She would find out the sellers email address and send a phony mail pretending to be from PayPal," explained US Postal Inspector Laura Carter.

The note would say the funds had been sent to the sellers account.  But in reality, no payment was made. The suspect ends up with the merchandise without paying a cent.
Inspectors recommend always logging in and checking your PayPal account.

"See if there is anything from PayPal because they do send you an email to your account not just your email," said Carter.

Perkins and his mom also learned a valuable lesson.

"I've learned you have to check someone's user rating, their history on eBay," he said.

"Your trust is being violated and someone has stolen something from you and it's a stomach churning feeling. You feel foolish that you weren't smart enough to pick that up and you feel violated and even more so if it's your kid," said McConnell.

The suspect involved in this case was caught and returned much of the merchandise to the victims involved.

Meantime, here  are some red flags that postal inspectors say you should be on the lookout for:

  • An immediate purchase of the 'buy it now' price with no questions asked
  • A request for overnight shipping 
  • PayPal notices sent to your email

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