January 2, 2011 3:42 PM   Subscribe

Possible PayPal scam? Two strangers sent my cousin some money and immediately filed a dispute claiming their goods never arrived.

My cousin doesn't sell any goods online and has no idea what these funds are for. She will happily refund the money but PayPal is asking for a service fee.

What should she do to protect herself and prevent PayPal from taking her money?
posted by cabbages to Shopping (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like maybe they sent the money to the wrong person, the right person didn't get the money and thus didn't send whatever it was these people bought, and now it's all devolved into a huge mess.

I would have her contact PayPal and talk to someone and try to sort it out in a rational adult manner. Before assuming she's been scammed.
posted by Sara C. at 3:59 PM on January 2, 2011

PayPal is asking for a service fee.

A service fee for issuing a refund? That doesn't sound right. Is she even sure she's even dealing PayPal and not some fake site pretending to be PayPal?
posted by jon1270 at 4:02 PM on January 2, 2011 [6 favorites]

Get as many details from both the strangers and PayPal as humanly possible.

This may or may not be a scam but it is exactly how a scam starts. It's a variation on the advance-fee fraud: A potential buyer overpays, then asks you to refund the difference. After doing so, you find that the funds they sent you in the first place were no good for any number of reasons, in such a way that they wouldn't be noticed until the bank tried to clear the check - which can take up to a week.

At the very least I would call or email PayPal's customer service and explain the situation, and also explain that this is not any transaction she was a part of, thus any money taken out as a service fee is money taken from her (an innocent party) to cover someone else's mistake. Take it from there.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 4:06 PM on January 2, 2011

I have had two paypal disputes (one legitimate, one was a mistake) and both times I could just refund all the money they sent me. I didn't have to pay anything extra so yeah, if "paypal" is actually asking for more money one top of refunding the full amount I would wonder if it is really paypal.
posted by magnetsphere at 4:07 PM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've sold a couple of things on eBay and one of them turned into a Paypal dispute when the buyer claimed to have not received the item (despite her signing for the registered post parcel).

Paypal debited the sale price of the item from my Paypal account (meaning, I had to pay that amount back before I could buy anything through them). There was no service fee. I'm seconding the "is she sure she's dealing with Paypal?" comments.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:38 PM on January 2, 2011

She needs to log in to www.paypal.com and change her password to something that she hasn't used at any other sites immediately!

It is possible that she has already been directed to a fake paypal site and entered her real login information there.
posted by davey_darling at 4:59 PM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Paypal charges $.30 for refunds now.

From their site:
When you issue a full refund, your original transaction fee is credited back to you minus a thirty cent processing fee.


Not sure how to avoid it or what's going on with your cousin. I would suggest that she call up Paypal and explain the situation.
posted by Slinga at 10:24 PM on January 2, 2011

When money arrives via a non-eBay transaction from someone you don't know, Paypal (in my experience) asks the recipient to confirm that they accept the transaction (and the money). Did this happen?
posted by getawaysticks at 7:37 PM on January 4, 2011

If she had any money already in her Paypal account unconnected to this affair, she needs to transfer that out to a bank account immediately lest (worst case scenario) at some points Paypal decides to seize it to cover the strangers' complaints, freeze her account entirely, and/or take their processing fee out of her money, etc. Her bank / credit card company may be willing to block Paypal if Paypal tries to transfer funds out of your cousin's accounts there, but there's little to be done but protest afterward if Paypal decides to take some of the cousin's money already sitting in its coffers. I always transfer payments out of my Paypal account ASAP and leave it empty for just this reason.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:49 PM on January 8, 2011

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