A NEW PayPal scam email has seen victims lose more than £8 million this year.

Action Fraud are warning people selling items online to be on the lookout for criminals sending the fake emails.

Criminals have been targeting people selling items online.

The emails trick victims into believing they have received payment for items they have sold online.

Typically, after receiving these emails, victims will then send the item to the criminal.

This leaves them at a further disadvantage having not received any payment for the item and also no longer being in possession of it.

Those targeted include people selling jewellery, furniture and electronics, reporting losses of £7,891,077.

Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud, said: “We know that criminals will go to great lengths to target people on online marketplaces, especially now many more people are selling items online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Criminals have taken advantage of the coronavirus outbreak to commit fraud and will continue to do so.

"We are working hard, together with our partners, such as PayPal, to raise awareness of the types of scams being committed and prevent people from falling victim.

“It’s really important to follow our advice to help protect yourself. If you receive a suspicious email claiming you’ve received payment for an item you’re selling, take five minutes to check directly with PayPal that the communication is genuine. If something feels wrong then always question it.”


What should you do?

  • Sellers beware: If you’re selling items on an online marketplace, be aware of the warning signs that your buyer is a scammer. Scammers may have negative feedback history, or may have recently set up a new account to avoid getting poor feedback. Don’t be persuaded into sending anything until you can verify you’ve received the payment.
  • Scam messages: Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial details.
  • If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

A spokesman for PayPal, said: “At PayPal we go to great lengths to protect our customers in the UK, but there are still a few simple precautions we should all take to avoid falling victim to scams.

“All communications from PayPal to account holders would be sent to the secure message centre within their PayPal account. You will have a secure message waiting if PayPal does need you to take any action.

“A genuine PayPal email will only ever address you by your full name – anything that starts differently should immediately raise your suspicions. Look out for spelling mistakes, which are a common tell-tale sign of a fraudulent message.”

PayPal offer the following advice:

  • Log into PayPal: If you receive a suspicious email, don’t act on the message or click on any links. Instead, open your browser, log into PayPal and check for any new activity. PayPal will also email or notify you in the app if you’ve received any payments.
  • Check the basics: Look out for misspellings and grammatical errors, which can be a tell-tale sign of a scam.
  • Verify an email’s authenticity: Phishing scams will often mimic the look and feel of PayPal emails, and ask you for sensitive information – something that real PayPal emails will never do.
  • How to spot the difference: A PayPal email will address you by your first and last name, or your business name, and we will never ask you for your full password, bank account, or credit card details in a message.
  • Avoid following links: If you receive an email you think is suspicious, do not click on any links or download any attachments. You can check where a link is going before you click on it by hovering over it – does it look legitimate?
  • Keep tabs on your information: Limit the number of places where you store your payment information online by using a secure digital wallet like PayPal. If you are making a purchase online, consider using a protected payment method such as PayPal, so if your purchase doesn’t arrive or match the product description, PayPal can reimburse you.
  • Easiest of all, use common sense: If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is! Stay clear of exceptional deals or anything that is significantly reduced in price from what you would expect to pay.

If you think that you’ve received a suspicious email, you can forward it to spoof@paypal.com, without changing the subject line. PayPal will let you know whether it is fraudulent.

More information about PayPal’s protection policies can be found on their website.