Warning over rise in PayPal scams through ‘Messenger’

A Lincolnshire Police fraud officer has reported a rise in residents receiving scam messages through Facebook.

Fraud warning

Gillian Fleet, a Preventing Financial Fraud officer for Lincolnshire, said: “We have recently seen an increase in reports from people who have received messages through Facebook Messenger from friends/family requesting to use their Pay Pal account to receive funds from the sale of items on eBay.

“Overall, between June 2020 and July 2020, a total of 95 reports have been made to Action Fraud, which specifically mention that the item sold was a camera.

“Messages are sent by fraudsters purporting to be friends/family stating that they have sold a camera on eBay but that they are unable to process the payment, as they either do not have a Pay Pal account or their account is not working.

“The request is that the message recipient receives the funds into their own Pay Pal account, then, after transferring it into their own bank account, they forward it onto an account controlled by the fraudster.”

Gillian explained: “If the victim agrees the payment is transferred into their Pay Pal account but, after the money is transferred out, the initial transaction is reversed leaving the account in a negative balance.

“Multiple reports have also been received from victims stating that their Facebook Messenger accounts have been hacked and that these fraudulent messages have been sent to all their contacts on their behalf.”

Gillian issued the following useful tips that people can use to avoid being scammed:

• Verify financial requests: Be wary of unusual messages asking for assistance. Even if the message appears to be from someone you know and trust, you should check it’s really them that sent the message by calling them.

• Unusual financial requests: Never respond to any requests to send money, or have money transferred through your account, by someone you don’t know and trust.

• Secure your accounts: You can protect your important online accounts by using a strong separate password and, where available, turn on two-factor authentication.

• If you’ve made a payment: Inform your bank, or payment service provider, such as PayPal, as soon as possible. They can help you prevent any further losses.