Paypal buyer scam

Police warn against classified ads fraud with PayPal

Hans-Christian Dirscherl

The police warn of cyber gangsters targeting sellers on Ebay classifieds or other online advertising exchanges. Alleged PayPal payments play an important role in this.

EnlargePolice warn of classified ads fraud with PayPal
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A scam that has been known for a long time with online classified ads, such as those advertised on Ebay classified ads, also made it into 2021. The police suspect that cyber criminals are betting that a particularly large number of people are now placing online classifieds, for example to get rid of unwanted Christmas presents or to sell items that turned up during the clearing out over the holidays.

The gangsters' approach is always the same. In a nutshell, according to the Lower Saxony LKA, the attempt at fraud is as follows:

An interested party responds to an advertisement and pretends to be seriously interested in buying. In order to appear particularly credible, the alleged buyer asks a few questions about the advertised product and may also ask for additional photos. But then comes the crucial twist, which is important for the fraud: The alleged buyer writes that he cannot pick up the goods in person because he lives abroad. He would therefore hire a shipping company to collect it and pay the purchase price in advance via PayPal. He would have to pay the shipping company a higher amount than the purchase price. Because of various fees or for other reasons. In any case, the seller should make a payment himself, for example to the forwarding agent and / or via Amazon credit cards. This is what the fraud is based on. Only when the seller has made this payment can PayPal pay out the amount allegedly already paid by the buyer to the seller.

Police advise: How to sell securely online using classified ads

The e-mail texts used by the alleged buyer are sometimes awkwardly worded. It can even happen that new buyer names are suddenly mentioned in the emails. The police suspect that the fraudsters are using the same email text over and over again and forgetting to exchange names.

The exact details of the texts that come from alleged payment service providers, freight forwarders and prospective buyers do not really matter. It is crucial that you as the seller should never make a payment and never pay any fees or the like that are allegedly overpaid. Because that's what this fraud model is based on. As the seller, you alone determine the method of payment. Ignore all requests for payment or even threats with legal action (police, seizure, court, dunning procedure, etc.). You can also report attempted fraud to your local police force.

This is how you can recognize this scam with online classified ads

  • The perpetrators usually use text modules. These are rarely related to a specific product.

  • The perpetrators claim a seat / workplace abroad and / or ask to be sent there.

  • For these reasons, the perpetrators pretend that they cannot pick up and look at the product themselves.

  • The perpetrators are always satisfied with the product, but ultimately specify the alleged shipping route by shipping or shipping company (preferably EMS).

  • The language / choice of words sounds like a translation program, even if a German name is used.

  • Allegedly (more) money was transferred so that the seller should pay for the transport service in advance with the difference.