Thursday, August 18, 2022 12:00 PM

PayPal phishing scam alert

in Science and Technology by MegaBearsFan

I came across an interesting new phishing scam in my personal inbox earlier this week. The scam came in the form of an email from ... paypal.com ... ?

Yep, that's right! I received an invoice from service@paypal.com requesting that I pay a sum of $600 for a gift card for someone who I have never heard of.

This caught me off guard at first. Obviously, I hadn't bought a $600 gift card for a complete stranger, so I suspected phishing right out of the gate. But for a phishing attack like this, I would normally expect the email to come from some random email made up of alphabet soup and coming from a clearly illegitimate domain, and for all the links in the email to refer to similarly illegitimate addresses. But that wasn't the case. The email came from PayPal, and all the buttons and links referred to pages in the PayPal domain. This email looked like a legitimate invoice from PayPal.

I received this email invoice from service@paypal.com, and all the links go to pages in the PayPal domain.

Turns out, it is a legitimate invoice from PayPal! Well, sort of. It is "Legitimate" in the sense that it actually came from PayPal. It is not "legitimate" in the sense that I did not actually buy the thing, nor did I actually owe the money.

After doing a bit of research, I found that this particular scam has been happening since at least 2020, but has been gaining popularity in the past couple months. Basically, the scammers take advantage of a legitimate feature of PayPal, which is the ability for any PayPal user to send an invoice for payment to any other PayPal user. The invoice is, thus, very real. In fact, if the target logs into your actual PayPal account, you might see the invoice there as well, which grants an extra illusion of authenticity to the scam, and might scare people into thinking that they actually owe the money (especially if the email threatens penalties for not paying immediately).

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Internet service providers have a reputation for being some of the worst, most un-ethically-run companies in the country. I hadn't imagined that a company could be worse than Cox Communications. As a child, pretty much every time my dad had to call them for any problems, they refused to take any responsibility for their poor service, and always blamed the issues on his hardware or on his computer having viruses -- which was only sometimes true. Basically, they would blame his hardware as an excuse to upsell him new hardware that would also only barely work.

When I moved into my own place, I wasn't happy with having to purchase Cox as my internet and television provider. But to their credit, they gave me an affordable price, and the service was pretty reliable. At least, up until a few years ago.

CenturyLink van
Don't do it! It's a trap!

My internet started failing intermittently. It would go out almost every night for minutes or hours at a time. Sometimes resetting the router and/or modem would fix the problem, but only temporarily. I had multiple technicians come out to the house to troubleshoot the problems. They would aknowledge the problem, but would be unable to find the cause. To my surprise, they even told me that it was almost certainly not a problem with my local network set-up. I had thought for sure that they would blame my hardware or network in an attempt to upsell me more hardware. They even ran a new line from the street out to my house. I had my own, dedicated DSL line going into my house! That would be pretty sweet, if it would work. Cox even reimbursed my bill for the disruptions.

Sadly, none of Cox's efforts worked. My internet still failed consistently. My girlfriend was dependent on our internet to do online classes related to her job, and so this was inexcusable.

CenturyLink

Like a predatory evangelist waiting to swoop in and take advantage of a tragedy to sell a grieving person on the "comfort" of Jesus, an opportunistic CenturyLink salesman showed up at our door. He was claiming that CenturyLink had just laid fiber optic lines in our neighborhood and was offering a sweet deal to switch. I had been thinking about switching to CenturyLink, if only to be able to have a reliable service again.

My frustrations with CenturyLink, and my feelings of having been scammed started as soon as the service was set up in my home. The service that was installed was not the service that I thought I had signed up for.

When the sales rep had come to my door, he had specifically asked me what services I was receiving from Cox. I told him that I was getting HDDVR, a second cable receiver, and high-speed broadband internet for about $150 per month (a price that had been locked-in for life). The sales rep told me that I could get all of that for $75 per month. I should have recognized that this was too good to be true, but I made the mistake of signing on the dotted line. When the technician came to install the hardware the following week, I realized that the sales rep had flat-out lied to me. I had fallen victim to a bait-and-switch scam, which is apparently CenturyLink's modus operandi...

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Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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