The new Paypal.me service is being hailed as a simpler way to request money, and by Paypal as “the link to getting paid,” but it also turns out to be a great way for scammers to get you to send them money.
The way it works is that you go to the Paypal.me site, and create your own personal link, using your name or anything else you’d like, and that new link goes directly to a ‘pay me’ page at Paypal. Let us repeat that last bit: you create your own personal link, using your name or anything else you’d like, and that link goes directly to a ‘pay me’ page at Paypal.
To set it up, says Paypal, just follow these easy directions:
How PayPal.Me Works
- Grab your own personal PayPal.Me link and we’ll add it to your PayPal account for you to share with friends or customers.
- Whether you need to collect money from friends, or get paid by a customer, just send them your PayPal.Me link.
- Friends just click the link, enter the amount and they’re done. The money’s in your PayPal account in seconds.
So here’s how it’s supposed to work:
But here’s how scammers will use it:
Now, you may be thinking “But the scammers would have to link it to an actual Paypal account”, and you would be right. That’s what makes it work for scammers – because they will link it to their Paypal account, and unless you are really on the ball, you probably won’t notice that the Paypal account you are sending money to through the Paypal.me link isn’t associated with the entity in the link.
This is in part owing to Paypal’s recent efforts to make the service and site more casual and ‘friendly’ looking. So, they don’t even display the email address of the receiving account, they just display the profile name.
We set up a Paypal.me link over at ISIPP, for the SuretyMail service, to show you how this works.
Going to Paypal.me/suretymail brings you to this page:
Not a whole lot of info there, right? And that “About this business” dropdown? It does absolutely nothing – doesn’t display the associated email address, or anything else. (Presumably there is, or will be, a place within the Paypal account to customize it, but we couldn’t find any such option as of the time of this writing.)
So, you enter a dollar amount, hit “Next”, and it brings you to this page:
Still no more information about who is behind the account.
Surely, though, you will be able to confirm the actual account before you actually send the money, right?
You see, the thing is, Paypal wants to make it as easy as possible for people to send money.
But wait, there’s more.
Because you can actually send people a Paypal.me link with a dollar amount already embedded in the link to make it even easier!
(And hey, if you want to buy me a latte to reward us for this article, feel free to complete that transaction ;-) but don’t feel obligated!)
You can of course see the potential for such scams:
We’re sure it will be only a matter of (a very short) time before someone actually registers HillaryforPresident or TrumpforPresident and passes around links like:
…and they will probably dupe a lot of people into “contributing” before they are shut down.
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