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PayPal ‘You Sent an Automatic Payment’ Phishing Scam

by Brett M. Christensen

This email, which purports to be from PayPal, claims that you have sent an automatic payment to an online entertainment company. 

Details in the email indicate that you have signed up for a premium membership subscription that will be automatically charged to your PayPal account every month. The email also includes a link that supposedly allows you to change or cancel your subscription agreement with the company.

However, despite its appearance, the email is not from PayPal and the claim that you have sent a subscription payment is untrue. In fact, the email is a phishing scam designed to trick you into divulging your personal and financial information to online criminals.

The criminals know that at least a few recipients will click the “cancel agreement” link in the mistaken belief that they have been subscribed to a premium membership that they know nothing about.
If you do click the link, you will be taken to a fraudulent website that has been built to mirror the genuine PayPal login page. Once on the fake site, you will be asked to log in with your PayPal email address and password.  Next, you will be taken to a fake refund form that asks for your credit card numbers, your name and contact details, and other identifying information.

At the end of the process, you will be informed that your refund has been successfully processed.

But, meanwhile, the criminals can use the information they gathered to hijack your PayPal account, use your credit card, and attempt to steal your identity.

PayPal scam emails like this one are very common. If you receive one, do not click any links or buttons that it contains. Keep in mind that genuine PayPal emails will always address you by name.  They will never use generic greetings such as “Hello <your email address>”  or “Dear Customer”.  Nor will they omit this greeting

The PayPal website includes information about how to recognize and report such phishing scams.

An example of the scam email:

PayPal Automatic Payment Scam Email

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,