Money Transfer Scam — PayPal and Alipay

I’ve been scammed. Although I feel immensely crappy to have been so stupid and gullible, I hope that by sharing what happened to me it will prevent it from happening to you.

On Wednesday, 18 April 2012, I received a message through the contact form of this site:

Your Name: susan
Email: susan.bunnell@live.com
Website: http://
How did you discover this site? google
Message: hi
i saw your blog about taobao.i need to send 1000RMB with alipay to a chinese seller
if i pay you in paypal usd can you help me?
thanks

Thinking it was a genuine reader of my site and a fellow member of the foreigners in Shanghai community just needing help, I replied:

Hi Susan,

I can help you but how do I know this is legitimate? (No offense but not sure if you’re a spammer)

Susan:

what does legitimate means?
me and my husband need to buy a copoun and card from a chinese seller which is 1000RMB
i used google translator
why should i spam for that low money? also i will paypal to you by gift/personal
regards

It sounded genuine to me, but I was hoping she could transfer it directly to my Chinese bank accounts instead. So I replied:

Ok I can help you with it.

Is it more convenient if you did an ATM transfer to me though? Through either Bank of China or ICBC?

Susan:

do you have master or visa card which be able to transfer worldwide? if yes i can do it ,
otherwise i just have paypal

I didn’t want to involve my credit card and decided the transfer via PayPal should be safe, so I agreed and gave her my PayPal account email address.

On Thursday, 19 April 2012, I received the following from Susan:

my husband sent you 158$ for 1000RMB and 45$ for show our respect and thanks to you
Randy, you have sent $158.00 USD to [my name].
Randy, you have sent $45.00 USD to [my name].
the alipay account i want you to send 1000RMB is:

h675273@rppkn.com
TINA WO

while sending please put from susan&randy
and give me transaction details when sent

thanks alot

I checked my PayPal account and did see the amount just as she said. I thought that once the money is in my PayPal account, it means it’s mine for keeps. So I proceeded to help her with the Alipay transaction as promised.

Susan:

wow,thanks alot
if i need this service can you do it?
i need another 1000RMB if its possible,this time will send 50$ token fee:)
thanks

I thought another 1000RMB wouldn’t hurt, and yes I was tempted by the pretty generous token fee. On the other hand, I was also naively wondering whether it could be a long-term co-operation. (What the hell was I thinking?)

Me:

Hi Susan,

Can I ask if this is going to be an ongoing service or is it just another 1000RMB?

I will need to work out my finances and make arrangements if this involves bigger sums of my RMB being “converted” to USD. :)

But to answer your question, yes another 1000RMB is no issue.

Susan:

hi
i know it may be hard for you,i really sorry.but hope this be last time :D
i sent you 158$+50$ to your paypal
please send 1000RMB to : tonyli@sharklasers.com
when done let me know
thanks alot

I did think the email domain name was weird, and checked it out. It’s an anti-spam email address which was strange for a Chinese person to be using.

Me:

Hi,

Can I ask out of curiosity what these payments are for? Both email addresses are pretty unusual for Chinese people.

Susan:

hi
i buy a game coin and service from these
they live in taiwan
that is all
regards

With that, I made the second Alipay transaction thinking I made a little money as well as helped a foreigner in distress.

That is, until I received the following email from PayPal two hours later:

Dear [my name],

An unauthorised account activity claim was recently filed against the
following transaction.

Sender’s name: Randy McNew
Sender’s email: dadds65@yahoo.com
Transaction ID: [transaction ID]

Transaction date: 19 Apr 2012
Transaction amount: $158.00 USD
Your transaction ID: [transaction ID]
Case number: [case number]

We need additional information from you within the next 7 days. Please log
in to your PayPal account and go to the Resolution Centre to see the
details of this case. There, you can enter any information regarding this
case that will help us fight the reversal on your behalf.

Thanks,

PayPal

And 3 other emails like this one, reversing the charges for all 4 transfers that Susan supposedly made to me on behalf of her husband.

I’ve called Alipay resolution centre in attempt to reverse my payments to these two accounts, but because it was an immediate payment, there’s no way to do so.

As for PayPal, I’ve attached my entire email thread with “Susan” in PayPal’s Resolution Centre but my hopes are not high. I’ve been swindled 2000RMB.

Folks, beware. Payment can be reversed on PayPal, and I learnt this the hard way. I know, I know, it all sounded too good to be true, I let a moment of greed take over all sensible thought. This incident keeps replaying in my head and I think about what should have rang alarm bells. Anyway, there’s no use crying over spilt milk, and I hope this serves as a lesson to myself as well as prevent others from falling into the same or a similar trap.

There are plenty of other scams going around in China. A couple that I know of are:

The phone call for help

Someone calls you and acts like you guys are friends. The next day he’s stuck in a traffic jam on the highway and needs some emergency money to get back to Shanghai or wherever.

The credit card company call

Someone claiming she’s a representative from the bank calls you to tell you your credit card was swiped for a large amount in some hotel somewhere.

Have you ever encountered a scam in China? Share in the comments.

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  • Hammie36

    Hi, I just came across your blog and definitely it’s been noted all kinds of money scams going on through out the world – not just in China alone. Be aware.

    I was personally conned out of the money on the subway card by an illegal taxi driver, who swiped my card several times on his machine and telling me it’s faulty. I had a bad feeling the moment he did that but nevertheless, paid in cash and left. True enough, the card was cleared of all value!

    Incidentally (and to my own idiotness), this same incident was told to me by a friend when she first came to Shanghai.

  • http://www.shanghaihalfpat.com Shanghai Halfpat

    Hi Hammie36, thanks for your comment.

    It sure sucks to be a scam victim. I guess it’s still better to pay the cab driver in cash.

    Avoid those maroon cabs like the plague. Their license plates start with BX. 

  • David

    I would simply tells susan to go fuck here self

  • http://snowrii-world.blogspot.com/ Snow Rii

    Wow, saw this in the gyaru community recently. Didn’t realise it had happened to someone over two years ago! :( Sucks…