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How to spot scam emails from PayPal

How to spot scam emails from PayPal

Tuesday 29th November 2022 at 08:03

By Rob

Goodness me the amount of scams you get through email these days trying to catch you out is unbelievable.

A part of me admires how creative scammers are getting to try and pull the wool over your eyes. I consider myself to be pretty internet savvy (well, I've been a professional web developer for 21 years after all!) but every once in a while there is something that *almost* catches me out, or at least makes me spend longer than 10 seconds reviewing it before I decide to ignore and delete it.

An email I've seen quite a bit recently is this one from PayPal, which seems to be circulating quite prolifically around the internet at the moment.

PayPal scam screenshot

Some of my most basic tests to quantify if an email is genuine or not are...

1) Does the email come from a genuine email address, or one that looks similar?

Lots of scammers send emails from an email address that looks like the company they're proposing to be, but isn't actually that email address.

For example, a scammer might register a domain name like "paypalverification.com" which isn't PayPal's domain name (their website is paypal.com). Whilst the domain name contains "paypal" it is just fake.

In this instance the email does actually come from paypal.com

PayPal email screenshot

2) Do links/buttons in the email go to the actual website, or a clone/fake one with a similar address?

Similar to spoofing the email address, if there is a button or link to click on in the email then very often the scammers will have a button going to a website address which is similar to where it should be going, but not the same.

For example, they might have button going to "paypal123.com" rather than PayPal.com

Web address when hovering over button

If you hover over a button or link then in most web browsers the destination of the link is shown on the bottom of your screen so you can check where it goes before you actually click on it.

As you can see from the screenshot above this button does actually go to www.paypal.com.

It all looks genuine... but we know it's a scam... so how did they do it?

This email DOES come from PayPal but it's STILL A SCAM.

So how did the scammer do it?

A feature of PayPal is that it allows you to send invoices to someone (anyone!) by email. So all the scammer is doing is...

a) Sending you an invoice from PayPal, so that the email actually comes from PayPal

b) Putting a message in that email with a scam phone number (the 44 808 196 2817 number shown above)

You can fall for the email in two ways...

1) You pay the invoice by clicking on the button


2) You call the spoof phone number and get scammed that way as you think you're calling actual PayPal but you're not, and they'll probably ask you for things like your PayPal login details and scam you out of money that way

How do I prevent myself from being scammed?

1) Don't pay any invoices you're not expecting

2) Always google the support phone number to see if it's a genuine number or not

3) Visit the PayPal website and contact PayPal directly to check

4) If in any doubt, simply delete or ignore the email!

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By Rob
Tuesday 29th November 2022 at 08:03

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