This is an email message you don’t want to get from Paypal

I like Paypal. I’ve been a Paypal member since before they merged with, before they were a part of eBay, before they had credit cards even. Back when you could visit their busy little office on University Avenue in Palo Alto (and I did!)

But in all those years of buying and selling – I’m a verified seller with over 100 successful transactions, btw – this is the first time I’ve seen an email about fraudulent account funds, reproduced in this weblog entry.

I hope I don’t need to say this, but I will anyway: I’ve tweaked the identifying information to protect the privacy of the scofflaw in this instance.

PayPal is committed to maintaining a safe environment for its community of
buyers and sellers. Our team employs the most advanced systems in the world
to protect the security of your account.

During a recent review of our system, we determined that you received funds
from an account with reports of fraudulent bank account use. In accordance
with PayPal's Seller Protection Policy, the following transaction involving
unauthorized funds has been reversed:

Transaction ID: 2E224343062UH8453P
Transaction Date: May 24, 2004
Transaction Amount: $100.00 USD
Buyer's Email: user@host
Buyer's Name: John Doe

The transaction was reversed because you were not covered by PayPal's
Seller Protection Policy. Please note that this withholding is in
accordance with our User Agreement, Section VII, Paragraph 3.

In the future, you can protect yourself against fraudulent buyers by
following the conditions of our Seller Protection Policy. For full
details, please visit our User Agreement at:

It’s certainly an interesting email message to receive. My question would be: how does Paypal know that there has been fraudulent activity, and if they investigated and determined that there wasn’t any fraud would they reverse the reversal of this transaction?

What do you think? Seen this sort of email from Paypal before, and if so, what trigged it for you?

13 comments on “This is an email message you don’t want to get from Paypal

  1. I can’t answer your question about what triggered it, but I started receiving similar letters a few weeks ago and now, hardly a day passes where I don’t get at least one to some email account. Funny thing though is I’ve yet to get one to the email account I actually USE for my eBay business.
    As soon as I received the first such email, I shot off an inquiry asking PayPal whether it was valid and they in turn replied almost immediately that it was not. I changed my password information nevertheyless.

  2. Paypal Scam Alert

    I hadn’t blogged about this, but I suppose I’d better mention it just in case… Somebody has come up with a pretty authentic looking way of sending email that appears to be about some issue with your Paypal account. So far, I’ve had several differe…

  3. An interesting response, Glenn. As it turns out, this particular customer is involved in the adult / porn (should I say “pr0n”?) industry, so it doesn’t surprise me that this could transpire, but are you saying that none of these notices are legit? Or just that none of those you’ve received are legit?

  4. I have to admit I’ve gotten “lazy” and don’t inquire about the emails I’ve been getting anymore after verifying that the first couple were bogus. Note though what I mentioned in my first comment: None of my emails have come to the email account I use for Paypal business. I am watching and should one come to that account, I’ll respond differently.
    All the emails I’ve been getting eventually are wanting you to verify some piece of account information such as your password, credit card numbers etc. My suggestion would be to NOT provide that sort of information until I had verified and reverified that it truly was Paypal emailing you about a problem.

  5. Ah, got it. Yeah, I don’t click on links to verify things any more, I type in URLs. Phishers are getting pretty darn savvy. Thanks for the tip!

  6. “this particular customer is involved in the adult / porn (should I say “pr0n”?) industry, so it doesn’t surprise me that this could transpire, but are you saying that none of these notices are legit?”
    if I remember well Pay Pal refused to continue process any adult transaction some time ago

  7. The email above looks like a real email from PayPal and has nothing to do with pr0n. Glenn’s referring to phishing emails which typically look quite different from the email above.

  8. I got a legit email from Paypal just like that about 3 years ago. I got ripped off in the amount of about $900. Paypal ended up closing my account as a result. But yeah, that’s how Paypal does payment reversals, even though phishers are using it now to scam people.

  9. By reading all previous note I can’t help but letting you all know I have just received an email from Paypal today just like that.In this case I was a seller who received money from a buyer that Paypal claims to be a fraud. I don’t know what to do now. It looks like it’s going to be a $510.00 lost that I have to take. Anybody have any idea what I should do. please advise.Thank you.
    Please read the following mail from Paypal.
    It has come to our attention that you may be the recipient of
    fraudulent funds. We have initiated an investigation into this event.
    the meantime, we have placed a pending reversal on the funds in
    until the investigation is complete. This pending reversal will show as
    deduction in your available balance. In the meantime, you are free to
    continue transacting using your PayPal account.
    Transaction Date: Jun. 3, 2004 07:11:26 PDT
    Transaction Amount: $510.00 USD
    Payor’s Email:
    If you have not delivered the goods or services related to this
    transaction, we ask that you delay or stop delivery until our
    is complete as you may be liable for the amount in question.
    To assist us in our investigation and to determine if you qualify for
    Seller Protection Program, please send an email to with the following information:
    1. The item, service or purpose of the purchase, and the associated
    2. The name and address given to you by the sender (if an item was
    3. If shipped, the company used for shipping, date of shipment, and
    tracking number for the shipment;
    4. Details of any other transactions related to the transaction(s) in
    5. A phone number where you can be reached during the day and evening;
    6. Insurance information, if applicable.
    Any additional information you have regarding this transaction, such as
    email correspondence, will further help us to expedite our
    Solving these cases helps us continue to offer PayPal as a secure and
    cost-effective payment service. We appreciate your cooperation and
    PayPal Account Review Team

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