A new Paypal invoice scam uses Paypal’s own invoicing system, so that the email actually really comes from Paypal, and has real Paypal links. In fact, the only thing that doesn’t really go back to Paypal is the phone number (855-607-2935 in our example below), which is manned by the scammers pretending to be, and answering the phone as, Paypal. Here’s how it works.
Paypal has a feature that allows you to send invoices from within Paypal to anyone, at any email address. As Paypal explains at their Paypal invoicing webapps site, you just “1. Sign up for a PayPal account, or log in if you already have one. 2. Create and send an invoice from the PayPal website or mobile app. 3. PayPal shares a link to the invoice with your client via email, or you can share a link on your own. 4. Customers can make a payment with their credit or debit card, their PayPal account, or PayPal Credit.”
Again, the email invoice comes from Paypal. So the scammer creates a real Paypal invoice, which is really sent from Paypal. Meaning that there is no way for someone to tell that this isn’t legit, because for all intents and purposes it is a legitimate Paypal invoice. Which means that all of the links in the email go to Paypal.
As a result the usual ways of identifying a scam all fail because the email system through which it is sent checks out (yep, it’s really from Paypal) and the links all actually go to Paypal too (ditto).
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All links are real Paypal links
At this point, after checking it all out thoroughly, and seeing that it really is a “legitimate” Paypal invoice, the recipient (we’ll call them Mark, because they are a mark) gets really worried, and calls the number. The scammer answers the phone saying something like “Paypal support, how can I help you?” When the mark explains that he never made such a purchase or order, the scammer explains that they need to “secure your account”, and instructs the mark to open a browser window and go to a particular non-Paypal website. In our example the mark was instructed to go to supremocontrol.com (they didn’t, they instead hung up and called the actual Paypal number, which is 888-221-1161). Here’s what that website looks like (don’t try this at home, we have a special way of looking up a suspect website without the risks, such as malware and viruses, usually associated with such websites).
Here is the text of an actual 2022 Paypal invoice scam:
Here’s your invoice
E. I. D Chloerlla LLP sent you an invoice for $288.88 USD
Due on receipt
View and Pay Invoice
Note from E. I. D Chloerlla LLP
Generally, it may take few moments before this charge gets on your account. Our team is currently performing a final review of your order. But it might also take up to 24 hrs. for this payment to got reflect on your account. If you didn’t initiate this purchase, or this payment was not made by you, directly reach out our customer support helpline at: 1-855-607-2935
This scam relies on you getting stressed, maybe going into your Paypal account and seeing the invoice and getting even more stressed, and then calling that number. It relies on the advice “log into your account to check if it’s real” confirming to the mark that it’s real and legitimate. It also relies on you not realizing “I didn’t order this, I don’t recognize it, and if I don’t pay the invoice nothing will happen.”
That’s right, if you simply ignore the invoice nothing will happen; it won’t be deducted from your Paypal account, it won’t be charged to your credit card – it won’t do anything but sit in your Paypal inbox. So, if you get a Paypal invoice that you don’t recognize:
Don’t call the number.
Don’t freak out.
Do ignore it.
Do call the real Paypal number (888-221-1161) and report it, if you want to.