How best to stop PayPal from robbing me?
September 20, 2019 6:15 PM   Subscribe

Tried to PayPal some money to a friend. When I tried to send it to her personal email, I was told 'this person only accepts payments through her website'. She doesn't have a website. So I sent it to her work email instead. This was a bad idea.

PayPal, somehow, has my friend's work email (which literally features her name) associated with some former co-worker.

I don't have a Pay Pal account, and instead of clicking Sign Up, I chose Forgot Password or whatever it said, and I got sent a numeric code and then they called my work number with another numeric code, and then I logged in and it says "Hi Kendra." Kendra is my former coworker who probably set up an account with a [work] email. I actually have no idea how Pay Pal had my work number to call. It won't let me chat with a customer service person online, and I can call - but I have to have an account to call, apparently - and my account is actually Kendra's, not mine. So I don't want to link my bank to it.

I tried to cancel the transaction, but was unable to do so -- apparently it had Been Completed. The only way (as best I can tell) to dispute things is to claim Unauthorized Access, which I did. PayPal has now responded that the payment was "consistent with your PayPal payment history," denied my claim, and told me that I can write them a letter if I want to learn more.

Any ideas how best to proceed? It was a wedding present, so it's a good bit of money.
posted by mookieproof to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
If she can log in to the account, then why can't she (a) send you back the money or (b) call them? She should also be able to research the history on her account to see what it's been used for before.
posted by acidic at 6:32 PM on September 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

What is *your* PayPal account funded by? If by a credit card, you can issue a chargeback. I’ve done so once in the past when PayPal was unhelpful. If your bank, see if you can take it up with them?
posted by Wavelet at 6:35 PM on September 20, 2019

Can you call PayPal and speak with support? The last time I had an issue related to PayPal, I was able to reach someone after only about five minutes on hold.
posted by alex1965 at 6:45 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Do not issue a chargeback for paypal unless you literally never want to use it again. You'll get your money back, but Paypal will block you from the service forevermore.

Your friend, forgive me, sounds spectacularly hopeless. I'm assuming they logged in using Kendra's old computer, and perhaps even Kendra's old work phone? Kendra's account/username would have been saved in the browser which is why it came up.

Your friend never set up a PayPal account with her work email, I'd wager.

They need to set up a PayPal account, using their details, including their work email. And you know, read instructions and help documents on websites going forward, if they click the wrong thing, go back and click the right thing rather than just proceeding..
posted by smoke at 7:45 PM on September 20, 2019 [21 favorites]

If your friend can log in to PayPal using her work email and her new password, she needs to 1) change her work email password, and 2) change her PayPal password again.

She should be able to check to see whether the money was actually received, and if the money was then removed from the account. If it was removed from the account, perhaps she can ask Kendra to return the money, or threaten legal action for setting up a fraudulent account using her stolen identity. Or maybe she should just skip straight to the part where she contacts the authorities.

It doesn't look like PayPal did anything wrong here. You sent money to a PayPal account set up by Kendra, just assuming that had been set up by your friend, so PayPal isn't "robbing" you. If the money had already been removed from that account, how would PayPal get it back, and why should they pay you out of their own pocket?

The problem here seems to be identity theft, and that's for your friend and the legal authorities to deal with. If you hadn't mistakenly sent money to the bogus account, your friend probably would never have found out about the bogus account. It seems likely that the account is being used for something other than just hoping random friends will mistakenly send wedding presents to it, but again that's something for law enforcement to handle.
posted by Umami Dearest at 8:53 PM on September 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

Since your friend can log into the PayPal account, she can see where your money went and she can reverse the transaction with a click. She doesn’t need to link her own bank account to do that. If your money went to a scammer’s bank account, then your money would come back from that scammer’s bank account. Also, your friend could give the cops a good amount of info about the scammer.

If your friend is resistant to doing this, then she either doesn’t have access to that PayPal account or she doesn’t want to give your money back.
posted by SakuraK at 1:02 AM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

What Smoke, UmamiDearest and SakuraK said. This isn't PayPal's fault or yours, it's your friend's fault, or at least issue, and it's on her to fix it. Tell her you're sorry she didn't get her money, but she needs to set up her own PayPal account from her own email, and then (if you can afford it), you will resend the money.

I know this is hard for many people - it was a hard lesson for ME! - but don't assume fault or responsibility for something that is not properly your fault/responsibility. Don't be a doormat. (If your friend gets pissy and blames you instead of trying to solve the problem on her end, she's not much of a friend.)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:36 AM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

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