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How to recognize common scams when selling


How to recognize common scams when selling

Hi everyone!

I want to write this post specifically to help new and experienced sellers spot when a buyer may not be legitimate. This includes recognizing fake emails and tricks fraudsters use to obtain items without actually paying.


Common Email Scams:

  • Emails made to look like they are from PayPal using our information for the email account “name”. Hovering over the name or replying will show that the actual email address isn’t registered to
  • Emails may say that “You have money” or “You’ve been paid,” but there is absolutely no record of the payment in the PayPal account. These will also generally say something along the lines that the payment will not post to the PayPal account until replying to the email with tracking information.
  • PayPal will never ask that you reply to an email with tracking in order to complete a purchase. Tracking should always be added to the transaction in the PayPal account.
  • There are some situations where we place a hold on a payment until tracking shows an item has been delivered, but there will always be a record of the sale in the PayPal account, and it will show a “pending” account balance. If there is no record in the PayPal account, do not ship the item!
  • Emails will say that you’ve received a payment considerably more than the sale amount. These will advise you to use a competitor payment processor to send the difference to a “shipping agent” that will come pick up the item or back to the buyer directly.
  • Processing payments is kind of PayPal’s thing, and we will never ask you to send money using another company.

Common Fraudulent Orders:

  • The buyer may request a seller send an invoice instead of paying through the seller’s website or on eBay.
  • This is a means to obtain the seller’s email address to commit the above scams.
  • The buyer asks that you ship to a different address after sending a payment.
  • There are situations where this may be an innocent mistake by the buyer, but it is also a means for fraudsters to circumvent our security measures.
  • In both cases, always refund the payment and ask that they resend it with the correct shipping address. This will protect you in the event a dispute happens, and a legitimate buyer won’t have an issue correcting their error.
  • Buyer sends an invoice to confuse new sellers into believing it is a “pending” payment.


The key is to stay informed and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are unsure if it is safe to ship an item. We’re always happy to help here or you can contact our customer support directly by following the Help & Contact link at the bottom of the page. You can also reach us on Facebook or at @AskPayPal on Twitter.


Sell safely and thank you!




If this post or any other was helpful, please enrich the community by giving kudos or accepting it as a solution.



Payment hold

I sold my laptop and the buyer has transfered the money from her paypal acc to my bank account. I got an email stating that the money will not enter my account until I send the item and provide a tracking number. I am a bit worried that it may be a scam. Can someone please assist.

ITunes Giftcard!??

Ok, I sold a item. The person told me to request the money. I did. I created a shipping label with PayPal w/ sign signature. PayPal told me once, the package is delievered it will give me my funds, while showing the request sent to the buyer - pending. Packaged still isn’t delievered yet, says needs to be signed at USPS. I received a email from PayPal stating I have a problem. I have a PERSONAL Paypal and the money I am suppose to receive exceeds my limit. Paypal tells me I have to have a BUSINESS PayPal to recieve my full fund and to ask my buyer to send a additional $250, so she can make my account business automatically. After she does that, PayPal sends another email stating I have to buy a ITunes giftcard scratch off the back and send a clear picture for proof of purchase to refund the buyer the additional $250 she sent to make my account business so I can receive my full money. PayPal is stating its a security measure to protect us both. So no one will just take the money. Is this a scam or is it PayPal’s new process and will I get my item back if no one ever signs for it?
Tags (2)
New Community Member

i need to now this is real paypal or not

i got this e mail because i sold my camera to Kyle and he said he did pay for paypal but you guys did something wrong therefore the money will not go to you when you are done the steps.
please check this e mail. Is that right or not



Dear Dong Hyun LEE,

We are very sorry for not getting back to you in time, we had some trouble with our computer depositing systems, when trying to process all deposited funds to beneficiary's account .We decided to take the troubled system offline and replace it with a new system. Unfortunately this caused us to lose some members data and Kyle hamburgh account was overcharged the sum of $180.00 AUD, The overcharged fund was added to your previous payment automatically and can't be reversed .We have informed Kyle hamburgh in regards to the overcharged fund and she instructed the fund to be directed to her cousin via Money Gram Transfer transfer.

Total sum of $820.00 AUD is ready to be credited into your account without delay,until you make an upfront payment of the overcharged fund deducted from the buyer's account via Money Gram Transfer as instructed and get back to us with the receipt for verification to reimburse your account immediately.Please follow the Instructions given below to get your money credited into your account as soon as possible.

1:Kyle hamburgh requested the overcharged payment sent to her Cousin in Kenya via Money Gram Transfer .

2:The information needed for the Money Gram Transfer is stated below.

First Name: Lisa
Last Name: Harris
Address:62 westgate
City: westland
State: Nairobi
Zip Code: 00100
Country: Kenya.

For more security reasons,make sure You send the Money Gram Transfer details to Us only and wait until Your account has been credited before informing the buyer about the payment.

Please, understand that this is a security measure intended to help protect both Parties.We apologize for the inconvenience that has caused you.

Because of the inconvenience this causes we are giving you the next two incoming transfers for free! You will pay no fees for your next two incoming transfers*.

Thank you for using PayPal!

Tags (1)

Same zip code scam - a loop hole of eBay and Pay Pal

If you never heard about “Same zip code scam,” please Google it and you will see many people complain about it in past few years.

I used eBay and Paypal from 2011 and I have 2 accounts. Totally, I almost did 1000+ buying and selling transactions with 100% positive feedbacks. Recently years, I do feel scams happen more often than before on eBay. I am very careful when using eBay – Paypal and I will follow their all policies just in case I lose seller or buyer protections.

Unfortunately, I still got hit by this scam. Moreover, even after I submitted evidence I got from USPS, Paypal still sided with this scammer and took away my money.

Here is my lesson.

I sold an iPhone on eBay. After buyer got the phone, he wants to return. I accept it. After few days, he updated a USPS tracking and eBay system showed package has been delivered. Package has been signed by someone I even don’t know and I never got any package. I contact local post office and they told me the destination address is not home address and I am also not the receiver. The only thing same is zip code.

I guess that is because buyer does not use eBay default label creator and he only update a tracking on the system. In this way, both eBay and Paypal cannot see the real address he shipped to. The only ting eBay and Paypal can see is the package has delivered to somewhere under same zip code.

After contact many USPS agents, finally I got a proof shows the package has been shipped to a different address. After I submitted evidence to eBay, buyer closed the case on eBay and escalated to Paypal. I talked Paypal agents and they keep telling me they can only make decision based on the information showing in their system. Finally, they closed my case in favor of buyer. I appealed my case and I see they asked additional information from buyer. After they got additional information from buyer, they close the case in favor of buyer again.

I do not know what’s kind of additional information buyer gave to Paypal. However, I believe there is only one truth. Even if buyer’s evidence contradicts mine, it does not mean I am lying. The easiest way figuring out is to call USPS customer service or USPS inspector number, not just easily close the case.

Overall, I just feel Pay Pal does whatever the easiest job for them. eBay and Paypal do not care “right or wrong”, “good or bad” or “honest or scam”, as long as they do not lose money.

After hours and hours contacting eBay and Pay Pal, I cannot believe I has been treated in this way after paying 10% eBay plus 3%+ Pay Pal processing fee for each transaction.

Overall, I hope all honest buyers and sellers can notice this loophole and learn a lesson from my experience. I also hope eBay and Pay Pal can fix this loophole in their system which already existed for years.


Links for same scam reported before:

Tags (2)

PayPal payment policies

I have just sold something on gumtree & the person has transferred a large sum on money to my paypal account.  It is not showing up on my account at the moment.  I have been told that I need to purchase a amazon gift card for the pick up agent that the buyer has arranged.  Paypal will not credit my account until they have proof that I have bought this.  Is this right?  

Esteemed Advisor

Re: PayPal payment policies




They encourage you to accept a 'direct' Paypal payment and may ask you to send the item internationally.
No funds or activity of the transaction shows in your Paypal account and any emails 'may' go into your junk or spam folders.

They don't quibble on cost and may also say they can't view the item as they are disabled or working abroad etc etc but they will arrange a shipping agent to collect it.

You will get/got a "fake" email that looks as though it is from isn't because they don't actually have a Paypal account and have no intention of paying you.
It will say the buyer has paid won't have been paid.

The 'fake' paypal email will tell you that the buyer has paid for the item + shipping costs but you must send those shipping costs to the courier/ shipping agent via western union, moneygram or a gift card from itunes or amazon etc BEFORE the funds are released to you.
They are not interested in the item, they just want that gift card etc and you will never see money in your paypal balance.

Paypal NEVER tell you to send an item before the payment is showing in your paypal account.
Paypal NEVER expect you to use a rival money transfer service eg Moneygram or Western Union or Amazon etc.
Also their is no seller protection on paypal for any item that is collected by the buyer.
Delete any emails and ignore the scammers.

Advice is voluntary.
Kudos / Solution appreciated.
New Community Member

Hey experts, had a question

I'm new at PayPal transactions and stuff so excuse my absence of knowledge on this topic. I recieved a 1x100$ invoice from a person who I met on the internet, in exchange for some game items. We are in different countries so payola says that it could take 24 hours for that 100$ to be transferred to my wallet. Once that will be done, can the person who sent me the money refund the money? He seems very mildly fishy as most people do not go first in a money--> in game item transfer, but he did it in an instant. Plx hit me up with responses! Thanks
Esteemed Advisor

Re: Hey experts, had a question



If it was marked as an invoice then its probably a scam doing the rounds as its been sent by a buyer and altered to look as though he has paid you.

Signs its a scam are >>>
its an invoice BUT sellers send invoices not buyers
marked as paid
marked as gift
says payment won't show in your balance for eg 24 hours
can't be chargedback.

Paypal NEVER tell you to send anything until the funds are showing in your paypal account balance.
Paypal payments are more or less instant.
Paypal will never tell you that a payment can't be subject to a chargeback if thats what scammers are still putting on invoices.

Advice is voluntary.
Kudos / Solution appreciated.

Re: Payment query

I suppose to receive the payment, but I received the email that I should pay for the shipping which I paid and PayPal sent next email that I’ll get my money in 1-5 hours, then the PayPal again email that I have to pay for the insurance to get that amount. I’m seller of the goods and the buyer should pay the shipping and insurance. So what I can do in this situation? I didn’t receive the payment and I will not they told me if I will not pay for the insurance. Is legal or how