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Man scammed by fake PayPal emails

Posted at 6:10 PM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-03 13:08:21-05

WALKER, Mich. — Branden Esparsa is holding out hope authorities can track down a laptop he sold someone who he says also pretended to be PayPal.

"It was such a subtle difference. I couldn't even tell. It looked legitimate to me," Esparsa said.

Take a quick glance at some of the emails, and you too might think they're from PayPal -- an online payment processor. Esparsa says it tripped him up when he was in the process of selling a laptop through Facebook Marketplace.

"I figured if I could hopefully meet someone locally I wouldn't have to deal with eBay's seller fees," he explained.

However, a prospective buyer in California messaged Esparsa and promised to pay for Priority Mail shipping.

"The name he used was Joe Poole," Esparsa said.

Esparsa just needed to request payment from the buyer through PayPal by using the buyer's email address. The man from Walker made that request through the legitimate PayPal website. He expected to receive $580.

"Even with Priority (shipping), he was do to get it roughly the 26th or the 27th and USPS confirmed he got it," he said.

However, Esparsa says he never got a dime. Instead, he received emails that appeared to be from PayPal telling him the payment was processing.

"So I ended up reaching out to PayPal, and I talked to them. I talked to a support agent. They said... after I read off the email's actual addresses they said those were not their emails," Esparsa recalled.

He says the phony PayPal address threw him for a loop.

"It just would have been a nice chunk of change to put in the bank and just feel good about myself. So it just really hurt that someone would do that to another person especially on Christmas," he said.

Esparsa is hoping the United States Postal Service can track down the person behind this along with his package. In the meantime, he's got a warning for others doing business online.

"If you're going to do sell something big on Marketplace, on Facebook, only meet up in person. Always check the person's Facebook account if they have it just to be sure they're an actual person. You can't be too careful in this day and age," he suggested.

Esparsa says another red flag was the buyer using three different names - Dan Poole for PayPal, Joe Poole for Facebook Messenger and Kurt Daniel for shipping addressee.

In an instance like this, PayPal says to always log-in to make sure you've actually been paid before shipping anything.

FOX 17 has reached out to PayPal, Facebook, and the USPS for further insight on this situation and await their feedback.