Semalt Expert: How to Scatter a Paypal Scam

Julia Vashneva, the Senior Customer Success Manager of Semalt Digital Services, elaborates on the problems and shares her experience on the topic.

I recently decided to sell my small boat as I had little time to use it despite my love for the sea. The boat attracted much interest aside from one unfortunate case I gained early suspicion of. First, my boat was a local brand specifically manufactured for the Finland market. I just found it strange selling it to a lady in Mexico where it would be the odd one out. Besides, I kept wondering why this lady wanted this specific model, which was only available across the Atlantic. How much would it cost her to ship it to Mexico? I then figured my boat was too cheap even to contemplate shipping miles across the Atlantic. Nevertheless, buying and shipping a boat from Europe lacked feasibility especially considering small boats are more affordable and in large supply in North America.

Strangely, the purported buyer showed little interest in the boat. She seemed eager to buy it without taking a personal physical look at it first never mind the fact that only one query on price was made without much need for detail. I then realized a scammer wasn’t going to make many queries on price when they never intended on paying anyway. In fact, more questioning was directed at the payment process rather than the boat itself or its ownership. Normally, the seller should be the one querying the payment process while the buyer seeks authentication for proof of ownership.

On examining the start of our conversation, I noticed the use of generic sales language to initiate the deal. The language could work for any type of sell-able goods out there let alone a boat, and it was unconvincing and generic at best. Further down our talks, it became apparent that Paypal was the only viable and acceptable mode of payment. I guessed it was meant to be more convenient for their scam. I also found it strange having to make payments to a courier company whose address didn’t match the receiving company. During our conversation, the buyer kept ignoring my requests and questions while answering only when the process stalled. Knowing how Paypal works, I quickly realized the deal was a scam.

On further scrutiny of the buyer, I realized her passport was British though she was using a Mexican address and phone number. I also Googled her profile picture which I found out belonged to another lady in the US. Ironically, the picture featured on several dating websites while the lady was married according to her title. That brings me to her grammar, how can a European lady with a British passport and American addresses commit so many grammatical mistakes in our conversation? By now I was doing a full investigation, and her passport failed my validity test. Everything on it was authored from names, photo, metadata and even the signature.

When it came to signing contracts, she had the guts to append a different signature from what was provided in her passport. Considering we lived in different time zones, it seemed strange this lady buyer replied to all my emails almost instantly. I smelt something fishy, the conversation shifted to bargaining and eventually led to a slow death. In such a way I avoided a fatal scam.