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PayPal 'Refund Pending' Phishing Scam

Outline
Message claims that the recipient has a refund pending from PayPal due to a mistakenly applied late payment charge. The recipient is instructed to complete the refund transaction by clicking a link and logging into his or her PayPal account.



Brief Analysis
The message is not from PayPal and the claim that the recipient is eligible for a refund is a lie. Those who follow the link in the message will be taken to a bogus website that asks for their PayPal login information and other personal and financial details.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.

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Last updated: September 13, 2012
First published: September 13, 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example

Subject: We do apologise for this mistake which was caused by erros from our system

Dear Customer,

Our record shows that you have a refund pending due to late payment charges mistakenly applied
to your account by us. We sincerely apologise for this mistake which was caused by errors on our system.
This transaction cannot be completed until you log on to verify your account information.
Please note that it may take up to 3 working days to credit your account with the refund.

Click here to Log On

Please do not reply to this message. For questions, please call Customer Service.We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Copyright 1999-2012 Paypal group. All rights reserved.

Please do not reply to this e-mail as this is only a notification. Mail sent to this address cannot be answered.

Paypal Refund Scam email




Detailed Analysis
According to this email, PayPal owes you a refund due to a mistakenly applied late payment charge. According to the message, to claim the refund, you must click a login link in the email in order to verify your account information and complete the transaction. The email comes complete with the PayPal logo and copyright notice.

However, the email is not from PayPal. In fact, it is an attempt by online criminals to trick you into handing over your personal and financial information. You, dear reader, are likely far too wise to get caught by such a ruse. But, if you did click the link, you would be taken to a fraudulent website designed to look very similar in appearance to the genuine PayPal site. Once there, you would be asked to login by entering your PayPal email address and password. Next, you would be taken to a second bogus page and asked to supply ID and contact information as well as your credit card details.

Alas, after clicking the "Submit" button on the bogus web-form, all of your personal and financial information would be sent off to the scammers running this phishing attack. Probably before you even realized that you had been phished, the scammers would have logged into your real PayPal account, used it to conduct various fraudulent transactions and ran up a hefty credit card bill in your name.

PayPal is a favourite target of phishers, probably because PayPal does conduct so much of its business via email. But, PayPal will never send you an unsolicited email that asks you to verify or update your account by clicking a link. Or by opening an attachment as in some variants of these phishing scams. And PayPal will never send you a message that includes a generic greeting such as "Dear Customer". Official PayPal emails will always address you by name. PayPal has published information about phishing scams on its website, including where to submit any scam emails that might come your way.

Given that warnings abouts such scam attempts have been widely publicized for years, both online and via the mainstream media, some might find it rather incredible that people still actually fall for them. But, people do still get taken in. Every day. All over the world. Phishing works. Otherwise the criminals would not bother to pursue the tactic so vigorously. So, don't assume that all of your friends and colleagues already know about how phishing scams operate. Perhaps take the time to share information about phishing with those who might not be aware about such nefarious activities. You might just save someone from becoming a victim. And make it just a little harder for some grubby scammer to get his hands on an innocent person's money and information.


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References
PayPal 'Your Credit Card Information Has Changed' Phishing Scam
Fve easy ways to detect a phishing email
Phishing Scams - Anti-Phishing Information


Last updated: September 13, 2012
First published: September 13, 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer