This Paypal email scam is another dangerous one that relies on your instant emotional reaction. If you have a PayPal account you are probably accustomed to receiving this sort of email each time you use your account to purchase something online.
First impressions count
The thought process that quickly runs through your head after receiving an email like this is usually something like the following:
1. Is this real?
Yep, the email looks authentic, it has the PayPal logo, and PayPal email addresses in the body, and the sender appears to be “firstname.lastname@example.org”.
2. I don’t remember making a purchase of that amount recently.
There is no description but there is an email address that the payment was sent to. It’s a PayPal.com address and if I hover over the address the pop up displays the same address, indicating it is not being cloaked, a tactic that scammers often use. But why is the purchase being sent to PayPal and not to some vendor of a product or service? Hmmm.
3. Has my PayPal account been hacked?!
OMG! My account has been hacked and someone is purchasing stuff with my money??? Quickly, how do I stop this transaction?
4. Cancel, cancel, cancel!
Look near the lower part of the email is an option to cancel this payment. Phew!
To cancel this payment please click here
But wait! Don’t rush to click that link just yet. Hover once more and you’ll notice that this loads a website that begins with what looks like a legitimate PayPal URL but it soon becomes apparent that this PayPal part of the URL is just the subdomain of some other *foreign domain!
Another scam attack thwarted
That was a close call! The emotional attachment to our money is strong and whenever we suspect that our financial accounts have been compromised it is important to act quickly.
Had you clicked on that link in the email it is possible that you could have loaded a nasty website that installed a trojan, or launch some kind of attack on your computer, or, perhaps more likely, taken you to a website that is a clone of the PayPal site to fool you into entering your Paypal username and password. I can’t say for certain what the outcome will be as I am not willing to take the risk, and neither should you be.
* The scammer’s URL has been altered in case some of you more click-happy people can’t help yourselves. 😉