CHARLESTON – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is cautioning people who sell items through eBay about a scam in which fraudulent buyers will fabricate a message from PayPal indicating the item has been purchased, confirming payment, and providing an address for shipping.

Sellers do not realize the buyer was fake until after the payment for the item fails to show up in the seller’s PayPal account. Unfortunately, by then the item has been shipped, and the seller has no way to recover the loss.

“Hundreds of people buy and sell items every day online without a problem, but scammers have become quite creative with their deceptive practices,” Morrisey said in a press release. “These fraudulent e-mails from an entity appearing to come from PayPal encourage sellers to believe they have been paid. This leads the seller to believe they should send items to those who they believe purchased items in good faith.”

Some of the common items that have been targeted by these scammers include iPhones and iPads, Nike Air Jordan shoes, cameras, jewelry, wedding dresses, and in some cases, cars.

To avoid falling victim to one of these unscrupulous buyers, Morrisey's office says consumers should take a few steps when selling items online:

  • When you receive confirmation e-mails from PayPal, do not log in through the e-mail message. Instead, log in through PayPal’s site directly to verify the funds have been placed into your account, and then ship the item.

  • Carefully review the buyer’s eBay profile. If the buyer has negative comments or no comments at all, there may be cause for concern.

  • Be wary of buyers who request you wire them money for fees or shipping. Additionally, do not let the buyer pressure you into shipping your item immediately after receiving a PayPal confirmation e-mail.

  • If you believe a buyer is trying to scam you, contact the eBay Security Center, your local law enforcement, and the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.

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