December 8, 2004 4:55 PM   Subscribe

PayPal Filter: I recently started using PayPal--the first transaction was my 'donation' to MeFi. Then I sold a book on eBay and had $77.00 paid to me through PayPal. I, foolishly I guess, left the money there thinking I'd use it to buy stuff down the road. But yesterday within three minutes someone 'paid' me $660 and then paid out $723 which effectively deleted my balance save 31-cents. PayPal seems not too surprised and waffled shamelessly when I asked how this happened and if I could get my money back. It seems to me eBay could afford to make good on transactions gone wrong by their unsecured system. [I've mailed in an affidavit as they required.] I need $77 a lot more (for Christmas) than eBay does and yet IF I get my money back it's not likely to be in time to buy presents this year. Any ideas, suggestions, pointers to finding a remedy?
posted by NorthCoastCafe to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
How did they take the $723 out of your account?
posted by smackfu at 5:08 PM on December 8, 2004

The money is gone. Close your PayPal account and move on.
posted by krisjohn at 5:09 PM on December 8, 2004

That's odd and I've never heard anything like it.

If someone accidentally gave you $600, then they could only refund (take back) the exact amount. Sounds like something fishy was going on.
posted by mathowie at 5:18 PM on December 8, 2004

PayPal wants to be a bank and yet doesn't want to play by the rules. If the funds had come out of your regular bank account, you would have recourse under Federal Regulation E. As it stands, PayPal is basically unregulated and probably doesn't give a rat's ass. Krisjohn is right - I would say the money's gone. And, I would complain to my state's attorney general (assuming a miracle doesn't happen).
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:46 PM on December 8, 2004

This question may insult you, but I have to ask: since getting the account have you responded to any e-mails supposedly from eBay or Paypal that did not address you specifically by your username and that required you to click through to a login page where you had to fill in your information? If you did, you may have fallen victim to a scam. I'm not sure how someone could get this kind of access to your account without your password, and that's often how the scammers get them.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:07 PM on December 8, 2004

Agreement with PST. Change your password now if you haven't already.
posted by Mwongozi at 6:12 PM on December 8, 2004

this sounds like your account has been hijacked. They couldn't "refund" that amount without knowing how much money you had and had access to your administration section.
posted by Stynxno at 6:45 PM on December 8, 2004

Yup. Your account has been compromised somehow -- likely it has nothing to do with the $77 sale. As PST said, it is possible you might have fallen for a "phishing" scam.

Never ever click on a link in a mail purporting to be from eBay or PayPal -- most of them are from scammers. Even if a mail isn't a scam -- go to eBay (or PayPal) in your browser by typing in or, log in, and if there's something you need to access you can get there that way, and you'll know it's safe.

A lot of the PayPal/eBay phishing scam mails have gotten really sophisticated. Reading the source code will eventually make it clear they aren't authentic, but sometimes that evidence is pretty deeply buried.
posted by litlnemo at 6:56 PM on December 8, 2004

Just a PSA, even though I suppose most people know:
PayPal (as well as many other sites) has a policy of *never* sending an email asking for your password, so if you see one, you *know* it's a scam. If you get an email saying something along the lines that your account has been compromised, or you need to change your password "for security reasons" - be *very* suspicious. I'm sure there are genuine instances of this, but I'd bet it's very, very rare. In addition, you should certainly never click a link in an email that asks you to "click the link and change your password." Open a browser window, manually enter the URL, and change it that way, if need be. You might also want to do a good virus/spyware sweep on your system.
posted by sixdifferentways at 7:47 PM on December 8, 2004

Incidentally, NorthCoastCafe, you could go to Modest Needs, present your case there, and possibly get the $77 dollars for Christmas. Possibly. Give it a shot, right?
posted by oflinkey at 8:20 PM on December 8, 2004

Any emails you receive from paypal or ebay that have clickable links or ask for data should be forwarded to and respectively. They'll write you back in a couple of hours and let you know if it's a scam. I have literally received hundreds of these emails and not a single one has ever been legit.
posted by dobbs at 8:38 PM on December 8, 2004

Re that last point: There was a case once (our tech writer wrote about it at where eBay or PayPal was sending out some kind of note, a fairly innocuous one (not asking for personal info). Many were trained to suspect anything, became suspicious and forwarded IT to spoof. They got the same old "this did not come from us mail." They just send that as an auto-response to any mail to the spoof address. 99.999 times they're right, but they have sent it regarding legit mail.
posted by GaelFC at 9:50 PM on December 8, 2004

AHAHAHAHAHA! You think you can get somewhere with eBay?!?!? AHAHAHAHA!

I managed to actually call the VPs extension (check their BBB score [1702 complaints], which seems to actually accumulate almost all the BBB complaints [3157] for all of silicon valley). By calling the VPs extension I think someone actually listened to my complaint and didn't send me a boilerplate message back. That's the only way you will get service from those asswipes.

Basically, just don't do business with eBay where you could be on the losing side. It's the only way to win against a corporation what refuses to hire competent phone staff and furthermore refuses to answer emails.

It won't be long till they go out of business. They do business so poorly (search for ebay sucks) it won't be long at all until a competitor eats them alive. Good riddance, I'll say.
posted by shepd at 10:21 PM on December 8, 2004

You won't have trouble finding evidence that PayPal Sucks all over the net. You'll likely never see that money again; corporate irresponsibility is not only a way of life at Paypal, but it's factored into their business plan.

My advice: don't use Paypal. If you have to use Paypal, link it to an account that's not used for anything else - preferably at a bank where you don't keep the majority of your money.

And get in the habit of looking at the address bar before logging into any financial website. The better 'phishers' out there put up a screen that looks IDENTICAL to the paypal or ebay screen, takes your password and username, presumably records it for the use of the evildoers, and then sends you to ebay or paypal's actual login screen, making you think you just mistyped your password.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:23 AM on December 9, 2004

This happens not infrequently and your basically boned. Be glad it's only for $77 and not the 4Gs my buddy got taken for. We never did figure out what happened. It wasn't a phishing expedition as he keeps every single email he receives (even his spam folder) for 2 years and we couldn't find any evidence of a fishing email. His box looked clean of trojans and he's on a wired link. It's just one of the many ways paypal blows.
posted by Mitheral at 7:52 AM on December 9, 2004

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