Thursday, May 17, 2012

PayPal Nightmare

Like millions of people, I have a PayPal account. Everyone has different reasons for having one.  Mine is to receive payments from companies I freelance for when I actually get work.  I also have student accounts to reload the kids' cards so if they have an emergency or are planning to go the movies with friends, they have access and a limit.

My relationship with PayPal has been flawless from the beginning.  The freelance payments go there directly and when it reaches a certain amount, I transfer to my bank account to pay the inevitable monthly bills.  There has never been a hiccup ...

Until Now.

On May 15, 2012 I decided to check my email and found the following:

You created a shipping label

Transaction ID:
Hello XXXXXXXXXXX, (removed to protect my privacy)
You created a shipping label using PayPal Shipping with U.S. Postal Service®Track your shipment
Your tracking number is XXXXXXXXXXXXXUS. Please keep this number for your records as it will get updated when the shipment clears the Bureau of Customs. This number also provides delivery confirmation in some countries. To learn more, check out the U.S. Postal Service® website.
Please note that tracking information updates occur mostly in the afternoon or evening, so you might not see it until the next day.
Tracking numberXXXXXXXXXXXXX (removed to protect my privacy)
Label purchase dateMay 15, 2012 14:55:24 PDT
Total shipping cost$xxxx.xx USD
Insured value
Shipping label transaction ID42D87107xxxxxxxx
Ready to ship?
You can:
All you need to do is print and send. We'll email your buyer with all the tracking information.
Made a mistake on the label?
You have 48 hours to void it. We'll let the U.S. Postal Service know you've voided the label, and we'll respond within 15 calendar days. If your void is approved, we'll credit the amount to your PayPal account.
Need to print your label again?
You can reprint your U.S. Postal Service shipping label, but must do it within 24 hours of creating it.

Shipping address - unconfirmed
agripka ustinov
zhukov pr. 7 168

Shipping details
Mailing date: May 15, 2012
Shipper: U.S. Postal Service
Tracking number: XXXXXXXXXXXX (Removed to protect my privacy)
Service type: Express Mail International®
Shipping Status: Shipped
I don't know anyone in the Ukraine - A red flag should be that the shipping address is unconfirmed (as stated in red in the email).  I never authorized this charge.

Being a good citizen and a responsible adult, I immediately clicked on "You have 48 hours to void", entered the required information, and contacted PayPal to let them know that my account had been hacked, put a stop to that nonsense and refund my money. 

The people at PayPal could not be nicer if they tried. They were concerned on my behalf and reassured me that they take care of their customers. Please give them 10 days.

No problem. I understand that they have their jobs to do and this things take some time to investigate.  My feelings at the time were a bit raw and did not have time to think this through to the extent that I was forced to do so today.  I went on Twitter and vented:

I feel so violated. Someone hacked into my account & send themselves $ - Like I can afford it!
today is another day and was forced to think things through after receiving the following e-mail:


This email confirms that your shipping label cancellation and your refund request has been denied by the U.S. Postal Service® for the shipping label shown below because a package containing this shipping label was received by the U.S. Postal Service.

Ship To: agripka ustinov
zhukov pr. 7 168

Ship From:
(My Name)
(My Address)
United States
Carrier:  U.S. Postal Service
Service Type:  Express Mail International®


I was flabbergasted. Immediately I tracked the package:
Proof of Delivery
Arrived at Sort Facility
May 17, 2012, 3:19 pm
Depart USPS Sort Facility
May 16, 2012
Processed through USPS Sort Facility
May 16, 2012, 1:32 pm
Electronic Shipping Info Received
May 15, 2012

I called PayPal:

"The US Postal Service has declined refunding you because the label has already been used. Don't worry, we are not declining your claim. We are investigating and are in touch with the postal service to get your refund." -
 He also gave me an email address they use to contact the postal service.  

The e-mail address is the same as the people who took my money.

I Called the USPS department they routed me to and spoke with three different people.  The last one was a supervisor who took down all the pertinent information and assured me he'd be in touch with Pay Pal to get me a refund.

Both PayPal and USPS are working to get me refunded and I expect that I will. My relationship with PayPal is still good and will continue to use their service since I have not had an issue with them in years. (until now)

However, I made the following observations and received no real answers.  Just more of the "we are working to refund your money."
 ***Why did the "void" feature, which was done within a few minutes of receiving the email did not work?
***Why is the USPS not stopping the package from going forward since it is in their possession?

My concerns are that A) My name and address is on the return label and B) no one goes through all these illegal hoops to send candy abroad. Whatever is in that package is likely illegal. Drugs? Uranium? Plutonium? A Weapon of Mass Destruction? Underwear? - Let conspiracy theories begin!

I asked the supervisor at the USPS if this is not a Federal offense since it is going across state lines and what else can I do to inform the right people about this fraud that is apparently, nothing new. (see below for other people with similar issues)

He suggested I file a police report (locally) and the police department will file the necessary information with the Post Master.

Seriously? My police department needs to waste time doing this? - How about I get in touch with Homeland Security? or Attorney General Eric Holder? or at the very least, my own Attorney General? 

But the police department? - Dude! they are keeping our roads safe and looking for missing children, busting drug operations and spending their meager resources patrolling miles of desert for real emergencies and injuries!

Give me a break!

Update: PayPal refunded my money. Today I made my first charge and they are monitoring the account - delaying payment until they verify the purchase. 5/30/2012


Anonymous said...

the same thing happened to me yesterday. how did you finally get the refund?

Olivia Emisar said...

I follow the steps of reporting it on line but also made sure I got in touch with a live person via telephone. I documented the call and answers received.

It took a few days but they refunded my money. They have to verify the fraud and traffic to your account first.

Let me know if you get your money back. They have a 100% guarantee of keeping your funds safe against fraud and 100% refund.

Keep me posted.

Anonymous said...

You mean you contacted paypal? I have submitted a complaint to them by phone. The voiding thing didn't work for me either. I have received an email saying the claim was denied by USPS.

I live in Georgia and the package is traveling from Texas to Russia now. This is so frustrating! Thank you for your post and response. I will keep you updated

Olivia Emisar said...

Yes, same scammers. There is a phone number on the website and you can talk to a real person. I did not want this to end up unresolved by doing it only on the computer.

The reason the claim was denied by USPS is because the label had already been used.

When you call Pay Pal they'll give you a code to enter (you'll see it on your screen) that way they identify your account. Also, it is helpful if the phone number associated with your account is the one you use to call.

I know you'll get this resolved. Take a deep breath and follow the steps. Do keep me posted.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, that is how I lodged my first complaint. not sure if I should call and follow up or something. It has been a week. Thank you for all your suggestions

Olivia Emisar said...

It does not hurt to call and verify they are on top of things. It will give you peace of mind and a time frame for resolution.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to let you know that my problem was resolved by paypal a few days ago and I received my refund. Thank you for your help :) and here is hoping we don't have to face this again!

Olivia Emisar said...

Thank you for reporting back. Hopefully our experience will help others in the same boat. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

And the scam goes on. I received emails re: usps label being created and the charge of almost $60. Called Paypal. They had me change the password...not an easy undertaking in thier system. Said it could take 7-10 days to resolve. They agreed they had heard of this same scam before. I think they are doing the best they can in a world of scammers, but it sure is annoying on this end. My "label" was going from California (I'm in FL) to Russia??? Wish me luck...thank you for your post on this matter!

Olivia Emisar said...

This happened after you changed your password the 1st time? - You may also need to clean out your computer of malware/trojans, etc.

I am sorry and wish you the best of luck. I am sure Pay Pal will take care of it since they are aware of the situation and this is happening quite often.

Keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

Still no refund 9 days after this started. I've contacted them twice more as they marked the case as closed but they insist to them it is still open and they are investigating it. PayPal is a big disappointment to me in backing up their claim of keeping o0ur accounts with them safe. THIS is not safe, and their response to claim time leaves much to be desired.