My run-in with a PayPal Scammer

PayPal.  Like them or not, they still have access to all of our financial information.  With access to PayPal, you can use your bank accounts or credit cards to pay for things.

This makes them a HUGE target for scammers.  I had a run-in with a scammer over the summer, and it didn’t go well for them.  It all started when (All names changed) Lisa sent about $400 to my PayPal account.  I figured it was a mistake that would be fixed quickly.  Two weeks went by.  I emailed Lisa to say “hey, not that I mind, but what’s with the money?”

She replied with “you’re not my client Mike?  I was supposed to send that to mmagnus, not magnus.”

No big deal, I told them to reverse the transaction and PayPal would reverse the payment.  Except they didn’t.  They disputed it as fraud, so I left it alone, figuring PayPal would reverse it, no worries.  Except they did not.  PayPal said there was no evidence of fraud, so it was left in my account.  Okay, weird.

At this point, I should let you know that I’ve been able to keep those “Tech Support” callers in “rodeo mode” for about an hour.  So when a scammer gets involved I’ll frustrate the hell out of them.

So how is this a scam, you ask?  Once they have your PayPal address, then a couple of transactions (the money in and the money out, and “it’s from Lisa at something”) and your address, they can get into your PayPal account, and get into your bank account.  So all your money is gone.

How do I know this is a scam?  If nothing else, they called my cell to try and get me to send the money to the third party.  To my regret, I did not get them to email that request, nor did I yet have a recording program on my phone.

All I told them was “your refund has to go through PayPal.  I’m not going to take any actions.”  Someone pretending to be from PayPal called my house.  I kept telling them “deal with PayPal.  I’ve spent enough time on this.”  Another third party texted me to say she’d sent the money and that if was that poor I could just keep it.  So I said, “yep, I’m poor, thank you.”

Yet another third party (Bob) kept calling me and threatening me with ridiculous threats like exposing our gay love (like it’s 1947 and I’m Alan Turing?) and that he’d come over and wait outside my office, and that he’d tell the charities I work with that I was stealing from the disabled. (Because OF COURSE the client is disabled, right?) They sent pictures of me (from here, I assume) to my email address, threatened to go to my engineering association if I didn’t give them money, whatever.

I eventually did go to the police, who called them and told them to stop bothering me.  (I told the police they’re either the unluckiest people or the dumbest criminals; the police said “dumb”.)  As for the money, I’m just waiting for PayPal to realize it never existed in the first place and reverse it.

I’ll put up some pictures and the voicemails when I’m at a better computer.  For now I just wanted to post what happened since it’s been what, all year?

(Image shamelessly stolen from

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Magnus is a Professional Electrical Engineer from Victoria, BC. He's worked on projects ranging from new code for embedded radios to inspecting [redacted] government systems. He'll relax and unwind by teaching yoga or Cyclefit, or going out for a dive in the cold ocean.

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