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Fake PayPal Email
Posted By On November 17, 2004 @ 12:28 PM In Security Help | No Comments
Fake PayPal Email
Do you use PayPal? If so, you need to be extremely careful. We’ve been seeing a lot of fraudulent e-mails that appear to be originating from PayPal, but are in fact from an unscrupulous 3rd party.
Oh, and for those who don’t know, PayPal is an online payment system—a really good one too (I like it :-). They are not part of this scam, more like a victim. For more on PayPal, head to: www.paypal.com  . That said, even if you’re not a PayPal member, this is still something you should be aware of since it won’t take long for these crooks to counterfeit other online services as a front for their scams.
Here’s an experience we recently had:
A couple days ago, we received an e-mail that appeared to come from firstname.lastname@example.org. It seemed legit in every way. The subject line read “PayPal Member ID Confirmation” and the e-mail looked exactly like a PayPal e-mail. We’ve posted it on the site for you to have a look at:
To enhance the look of credibility, it even warned you not to provide your password to fraudulent websites and that real PayPal links always start with https://www.paypal.com. It even told you to check your browser’s address bar and make sure the link is legit. Turns out it actually gave you the information you needed to avoid the scam!
Since most people wouldn’t think a scam site would publicize how to avoid the scam it was, err, scamming, it really makes you think it’s coming from PayPal. Clever.
In any event, they told us they were conducting “random updates” for security reasons and needed us to verify our PayPal records.
Here’s how I knew this was soooo fake:
Although most of the links in the e-mail led to the real PayPal site, the link to click and update your info didn’t. It looked like a real PayPal link:
But when I hovered my mouse over it and checked my status bar I saw it was going to:
http://cgi27-paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr-cmd_login-run (this site is gone now)
cgi27-paypal.com is not the same as paypal.com, so it was obvious something wasn’t quite right.
When you clicked the link, it took you to a site that looked like PayPal in every respect—and right in the middle of the screen was a convenient box for your e-mail and password. How thoughtful of them.
Although I knew this was a fake, my curiosity was really getting the better of me at this point and I wanted to see exactly what info they wanted.
I figured since this really wasn’t PayPal, I could enter gibberish for a username and password. Sure enough, it let me onto the next page. Even if I’d missed the fake web address, I think at this point I would have decided something was amiss. That, or I had just guessed the password for email@example.com
Come to think of it, probably a good idea to try that fake username and password thing anytime you get an e-mail asking you to log into one of your online accounts—just as a test.
Anyhow, once I “logged in” I came to a page asking for my name, address, SS#, bank account, credit cards numbers, etc, etc. It would have been very easy to accidentally give this site my info if I wasn’t paying attention—it looked so official and all.
The moral of the story?
Just cuz it comes in your e-mail doesn’t make it true!!
This is only one of several PayPal scams we’ve heard about lately. Oh, and it’s not limited to PayPal either. This is starting to become more and more common and we all need to be careful.
If a company you deal with on a regular basis asks you to update your “account info”, you may want to go to the company’s main web site (type it in, don’t follow the links in the suspect e-mail) and contact them. Just verify it’s true before you surrender your SS#, bank account info, or credit card number.
By the way, if you suspect you’ve fallen for one of these fake PayPal scams, I would suggest you change your password immediately (like stop reading this and go—NOW!) then contact PayPal security .
Be careful out there—and don’t walk down any dark digital alleys…
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