Top 15 PayPal scams (plus how to spot and avoid them easily)

Gannicus Oliver Last updated: March 18, 2023 Read time: 21 minutes Disclosure

It seems PayPal scams are not disappearing anytime soon. You must learn to spot and avoid them, and this article will help you achieve exactly that.

Sneak peek at Paypal scams

PayPal is one of the leading and popular platforms, allowing fast and secure money transactions. Unfortunately, it is on the hit list of scammers, making the site extremely risky for users. These scams mostly appear as official emails from the platform. Consequently, many people get victimized and lose valuable information and money. This guide elaborates on the top PayPal scams you may encounter and the effective ways to spot and avoid them.

PayPal is one of the most popular online payment systems worldwide and an excellent option for sending and receiving money. Its worldwide fame makes it a very attractive platform for cybercriminals and hackers, who keep trying to get a share of clueless or inexperienced users.

It is possible that at some point, you had fallen into the trap and ended up being a victim of a PayPal scam. If so, you have learned the lesson.

Common scams on PayPal – Quick list

While you’ll find the detailed list of most online scams related to PayPal in this guide later, for now, to give you a quick idea about what’s wrong there, here is a quick list of the most common PayPal scams.

  • Problems with PayPal account – the scammer sends false warning about PayPal account closure or blocked payments.
  • Fake messages seeking advanced payments – the scammer lures users by offering huge lottery or selling fake products against some advance payments.
  • Invalid shipping address issue – posing as a buyer, the scammer aims at stealing money from the victim’s PayPal either by falsely claiming false that the ordered product never arrived.
  • Zero-day operating kits – the scammer may use sophisticated techniques, such as vulnerability exploits or abusing legit but stolen email accounts, to steal money.
  • Fake donations – it’s a common PayPal scam where the scammer seeks money as donations for fake charities.

However, if you have not been targeted by scammers yet, it is recommended that you know the most common types of PayPal scams and what you can do to avoid them.

But, let’s uncover some facts first.

The FBI recorded 467,361 complaints in 2019, an average of almost 1,300 every day, causing both individuals and businesses to lose more than $3.5 billion collectively.

The most frequently received complaints were either phishing or similar ploys, extortion, non-payment, and non-delivery scams.

No one wants to become a victim, but given the evolving methods, hackers are trying to stay one step ahead of the general public.

On February 11, 2020, Vade Secure, the world’s leading provider of predictive email protection, released its Phisher Report (Q4 2019), which included 25 best-known brands on the list who have become victims of phishing attacks.

Per the report, PayPal remained the top brand targeted by cybercriminals, with Facebook coming second and Microsoft third.

For the second consecutive quarter, PayPal was the leading impersonated brand in phishing attacks. Although PayPal phishing decreased by 31% from the third quarter, transaction volume spiked by 23% from last year’s period.

In the UK alone, people lost over £1 million in PayPal scams in the last quarter of 2019.

15 top PayPal scams

As you have learned some facts above, you now know that scammers constantly want to lurk on PayPal users and even the company itself.

PayPal scams can occur in different forms, such as phishing websites, emails, suspicious links, malicious adverts, and more.

All such scams trick users into sharing their private data, such as passwords and usernames. Often, hackers design such scams to look official to trick users into giving up private data, such as usernames and passwords, or collecting payments illicitly.

How do they succeed? Is there any common ground in all the PayPal scams out there? I hear you ask.

The answer is; yes; there is one thing in common. One thing that scammers try to achieve in all the scams is that they design it to look official, which tricks users for them.