New PayPal scam hits Oklahoma

Tuesday, July 1st 2008, 11:30 pm
By: News 9

A new scam is hitting Green Country, aimed at people who sell things online and PayPal users, said U.S. Post Office employees. But the post office inspectors are doing something extraordinary to help save those targeting from losing their money.

People sell millions of dollars worth of goods online every year. Web Sites like eBay use a payment system called PayPal, a secure third-party provider that takes money from the buyer's bank account and puts it into the seller's bank account. Using PayPal is supposed to make the process of buying and selling goods on eBay and other sites seamless.

However, a number of scammers have even found a way to trick buyers into thinking they were paid, postal inspectors said. The inspectors posed this scenario: The scammer will place a winning bid on something from the seller, and then send an e-mail that looks like it's from PayPal, confirming payment was made. The seller then sends the merchandise.

The problem is the e-mail confirmation is a fake and the seller has now lost their merchandise and money to send the merchandise.

"You're thinking everything is legitimate so you go ahead and send the merchandise and obviously you never receive the check or payment for that shipment," said Charlie Thigpen, U.S. Postal Inspectors.

The U.S. Postal Inspectors said this is just a variation on a number of different themes from scammers around the world.

Last year, they said they intercepted 600,000 fake checks sent through the mail and made 77 arrests in three foreign countries. That's why the Tulsa warehouse is now pulling packages headed for certain places, like Nigeria and contacting the person who mailed it.

"If we see something to be fraudulent or appears to be, we contact the sender and give them the opportunity to discontinue the transaction and do not send the merchandise," said Thigpen.

At the very least, they urge the sender to wait 48 hours to make sure they actually have money in their account, as promised. It's hard to know who you're dealing with online, but, at the very least, you need to take some precautions.

"Once the check clears the bank, and that is the key, once the check clears the bank, then you send the merchandise," said Thigpen.

Most Americans receive one or two scams a week, either through the mail, e-mail or over the phone. Many have already been taken.

What most don't realize is they are the ones who will be held accountable in many cases. If someone sends you a check and you deposit it and it turns out to be a fake, you are responsible for that entire amount.

Click here for more information about scams.