A Stranger Just Paypal'd Me $475, And Other Scams

So, I just got a gmail message that someone I do not know sent me $475 over PayPal. I have no idea who this person is. They share the same name as a very famous dead celebrity, although it’s not an uncommon name, either.

At first, I think it’s a phishing email. So I load up PayPal in my browser and log-in. (And, no, I didn’t click any links in the email.)

There’s $475 waiting for me.

So, like, is this a scam? I can message this person and ask what the heck is going on, but again, I’m wary it’s a scam setup to make me make contact. And I don’t really want to accept the money, because, again, WHAT IS GOING ON? Maybe they mistakenly sent it to the wrong email address?

What to do?

No clue, but my gut tells me don’t accept the cash. Sure, you could be turning down free money, but let’s be real. What is more likely, some rando sending you hundreds of dollars, or a scammer baiting the hook?

Can you flag it with Paypal?

Literally almost a year ago, there’s a Reddit thread with the same amount/situation, and while the poster didn’t provide an update, the advice was to reach out to Paypal support and explain the situation.

Every time I PayPal or Venmo money to someone I have this moment of paranoia that I got the details wrong. Could just be a mistake.

They just sent me a request for me to send it back


But now I’m wary as fuck because of that Reddit thread Thierry found. For the exact same amount, too.

I remember there being a scam with checks a while ago. I would be careful with people paying something. You could contact paypal and let them know. The scam involves you paying them back.

Yep, flag for support. That way, you are not personally on the hook for this.

This is about a different amount but it’s a similar situation of “mistakenly sent money, please refund” and how it’s likely a scam involving using stolen/fake funds to send to you, but you refunding is your real money. Do not touch the money and have Paypal sort this out.

You should be. Its very likely a scam. As reddit says tell them to work it out through paypal. Do not accept the money and definitely contact paypal.

Holy shit, trying to contact Paypal is a goddamn automated help nightmare

Ugh, their resolution center is shite


This. There’s some delay of verification or arbitrage or ways to claw back the money that they are using to scam you. Old school way was to overpay for something really expensive with a cashier’s check, ask the party to send back the difference, then in two weeks the banks actually notice the check is bogus.

If you really want to be sure it isn’t legitimate, then move that money out of paypal to your bank and ask them to wait two weeks, then you’ll paypal it back.

Do not respond to them at all. Just ignore it. Leave it up to them to get their money back from Paypal, it’s not your responsibility.

This happened to me recently with Venmo. I just reported that I got money from someone I didn’t know and they took care of it.

Given how many emails I get for other Brian Rubins (so, so many), I’m shocked this sort of thing hasn’t happened to me.

I lurk around the Scams subreddit.

This is 100% a scam. They will shortly contact you with a tale of woe about how they accidentally sent the wrong person some money and ask you to send it back to them. Then, about two weeks later the original $475 will be removed from your account since it was from a stolen card or account. So you will be out the original amount and out the other $475 you sent them.

The best course is to just let the money sit and to not touch it. When the fraud is discovered, the money will get sucked back. If the fraudster contacts you asking for the money back, tell them to contact PayPal about it. Then block them.

Bingo. Not your problem. Do not respond to them. Do nothing at all. Let them contact Paypal and “fix” it.

Yeah I would do nothing at all. Worst case scenario is that the money eventually disappears. Best case is that you got a free $475 dollars.

They messaged again

On the 0.000001% possibility this was an accident, I’ve crossed out their email address


Not gonna do anything.


Yeah, 100% a scam.

There’s probably a $500 threshold that triggers an automated check, so they send you $475 and hope to induce you to refund the money they stole from some poor sap’s credit card and leave you holding the bag. Don’t even respond.