A major warning has been issued to PayPal customers across the UK as criminals send out fake emails that could cost you thousands. 

The alert comes from the UK's national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, Action Fraud.

Victims have reported losing a total of £7,891,077.44 between January and September this year as a result of the fake PayPal emails. 

Reports of fake PayPal emails to Action Fraud made up a third of all reports of online shopping and auction fraud during this time.

Scammers targeted people selling jewellery, furniture and electronics through online marketplaces.

How does the scam work?

Criminals have been targeting people selling items online, by sending them emails reporting to be from PayPal. The emails trick victims into believing they have received payment for the items they’re selling on the platform.

Typically, after receiving these emails, victims will ship the item to the criminal. This leaves them at a further disadvantage having not received any payment for the item and also no longer being in possession of it.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Sellers beware: If you’re selling items on an online marketplace, be aware of the warning signs that your buyer is a scammer. Scammers may have negative feedback history, or may have recently set up a new account to avoid getting poor feedback. Don’t be persuaded into sending anything until you can verify you’ve received the payment.
  • Scam messages: Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial details.
  • How to spot the difference: A PayPal email will address you by your first and last name, or your business name, and will never ask you for your full password, bank account, or credit card details in a message.

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.