PayPal allowed a scammer to fill up my email account with demands, harassment, and death threats. PayPal then decided the disputed case in favor of the scammer.

As a freelance writer, I don’t need to check my email more than once a day. I am incredibly lucky to have found stable clients who are very clear about the topics and number of blog posts they want from me each month. My husband and I have a small business and we use a business PayPal account to send out invoices and receive payment for completed work.

For reasons I don’t remember, I set up a personal PayPal.me account. At the time, it seemed like something I could attach to my personal blog and link to on my social media. There have been a couple of times when someone I knew sent me some money (and I am very grateful that they did).

Unfortunately, the majority of the people who have sent me money through my PayPal.me have been problematic. All of them were strangers to me, and some of them gave me no indication about why they sent me money.


In November of 2020, a stranger sent me $45.00. PayPal charged me $1.61 cents, and put $43.39 into my PayPal account. The stranger then tried to get a refund on the $45.00, but could not, because PayPal didn’t actually give me $45.00. The only way to resolve this problem was to put just enough money into my PayPal account so PayPal could give $45.00 to the stranger.

At the time, I thought this was very suspicious. There was nothing I could do to change what happened. Maybe this was just a mistake on the stranger’s part?

In December of 2020, a woman (who was also a stranger) sent me $0.01 in PayPal. I got an email notification from PayPal stating that someone sent me $0.01. PayPal, of course, took the $0.01 as its fee.

Why would someone send me one cent? The woman left me a note on PayPal. In short, she previously sent me $90, but that was a mistake. She was trying to pay for a class, and confused me with the woman who would be teaching the class.

The woman who sent me $90 said she tried to find a way to contact me on my blog or through email, but couldn’t find a way to do that. So, she asked PayPay to refund this payment. So far, the woman said, PayPal had denied the refund. The $0.01 donation appeared to be her way of trying to reach me and explain herself.

I was somewhat suspicious about this. PayPal described the woman as “confirmed”, and that was enough to make me believe that she wasn’t trying to scam me. The reason why PayPal didn’t immediately refund the $90 she sent was because I no longer had $90 in my account. PayPal took a fee from it before giving me the rest.

Once again, I had to put additional money into my PayPal account to fix a PayPal problem. After making sure I had $90 in my account, I figured PayPal would be able to refund the woman’s money. Instead, PayPal charged me a dispute fee of $15.00 – which meant I had to put an additional $15.00 into my PayPal account so PayPal could send the full $90 to the woman.

You can probably see why I was becoming frustrated with PayPal. I was not the person who caused these problems, and PayPal didn’t seem to feel the need to prevent this sort of thing from happening over and over again.


Recently, I checked my email only to find it filled with angry posts from yet another stranger. There were several unique things about this man’s behavior that made it clear he was trouble.

The first email came from PayPal, telling me that that someone sent me $740. (For the purpose of this blog post, I’m going to refer to this person as “Juan”). There was a brief message from “Juan”, in Spanish, letting me know that this was from “Juan”. The email from PayPal noted that it took $21.76 as a fee, leaving me with $718.24.

PayPal posted “Juan’s” shipping address at the bottom of that email. It said he lived somewhere in Puerto Rico. Personally, I think it is kind of gross that PayPal sent me his address. I certainly don’t need it or want it! My hope is that PayPal didn’t give “Juan” my address. (Honestly, I’m not sure I ever gave PayPal my address.)

Shortly after that, PayPal sent me another email titled: “$740.00 USD from “Juan” is temporarily on hold”. The email included a brief description of what happened:

“We’ve placed the money on hold because this transaction is inconsistent with your previous selling activity. The money has been added to your on hold balance. It’ll be available once we can confirm that your customer has received the goods or services.”

This caught my attention because I don’t sell anything through my PayPal account. I mainly use it to send money to friends that need help with medical bills, or to websites that I enjoy and want to support. There are no goods or services connected to my PayPal account, so why did PayPal think I failed to send “the goods or services” to “Juan”?

Naturally, I logged into my PayPal account (in a separate browser, just in case the PayPal emails were a phishing attempt). PayPal was, in fact, holding the $740.00 that “Juan” sent. The money never made it into my account.

PayPal sent me another email titled: “There’s an issue with a recent transaction”. PayPal wrote “We recently notified you that a payment you received was made without the account holder’s permission or was the result of a transaction error”. In short, PayPal wanted me to log in and sort this out for them.

PayPal sent a second email (on the same day as the previous ones). This one was about a case PayPal had opened against me. Apparently, PayPal needed me to immediately resolve this problem for them. Here is part of what the email said:

“Your buyer filed a claim. The buyer stated that they did not make this purchase. Please help us to resolve this issue by logging into your Resolution Center and providing us with any information that can assist us with our investigation.

“Your participation is essential to the claims process. If we don’t receive a response from you before June 4, 2021, this case will be closed and decided in your buyer’s favor.

“Please understand that until our review is complete, we will hold any funds associated with this transaction.”

The email also said that “Juan” has requested a refund of $740.00 USD. “If you agree to this request, the case will be closed once the refund has been processed.”

The next day, PayPal sent me a copy of the previous email they sent. Within less then 24 hours, I suddenly had PayPal bothering me about something that I had nothing to do with.


My husband helped me out by logging into my PayPal for me and writing PayPal a note on my behalf. By this point, I was way too frustrated with PayPal to be nice about it. I have absolutely no idea who “Juan” is, and neither does PayPal – and yet, PayPal wants me to solve this problem by paying the scammer.

I’ve no intention of doing so for two reasons. One, I did not cause this problem, “Juan” did (and PayPal apparently has already decided that this is my problem to solve, when it is really their problem to solve.) Two, PayPal already took a fee from the $740.00 “Juan” the scammer sent me – and then withheld the funding from my account. This makes it impossible for me to simply refund the money (which, again, I am not inclined to do).

“I’ve made no agreement with this buyer. I’ve received no money from this buyer. I don’t know anything else about this transaction,” my husband wrote on my behalf. Immediately after sending that (and with my permission) my husband pulled the $1.94 cents that was in my PayPal account out of there.

What follows is a summary of the multitude of emails that I got from “Juan”:

Email 1: (May 25) Hello

Email 2: (May 25) Hey please send me money back!

Email 3: (May 25) Hello I need my money!!, dammmm

Email 4: (May 25) I send money I sent money by mistake, you give it back please

Email 5: (May 25) (attached to Email 4) Omg Where is my money!!

Email 6: (May 25) (also attached to Email 4) Send my money back jesus !!

Email 7: (May 25) Woowww

Email 8: (May 25) Dam send me money!!

Email 9: (May 25) Me money please

Email 10: (May 25): [swear word in Spanish that translates to “bitch” in English] me dinero !!

Email 11: (May 25): This was written in Spansh, and translates to “You must burn alive and suffer motherfucker”

Email 12: (May 25) This was also written in Spanish and translates to “I your whole family burned to death !! For the drone to suffer a lot of burns !!”

Email 13 : (May 26) An email was sent to me by Wayra Peru Travel EIRL. The tone has changed significantly from the previous emails from “Juan”. My best guess is he sent these two emails from his work account, and didn’t want to be fired for making death threats.

Dear Jean!

Here Imma from Peru! Iam tour guide! So I don’t have job. Now I have My passenger from Puerto Rico

They Make the transference today

Please!!!

My money was transferred to you because of the mistake of Pay Pal, they transferred it to the wrong person, to you, instead of me. [emoji of a frowning yellow blob]

the total 740$ Please can You Make back this transference to PayPal one of the guys writed You to please [emoji of praying hands]

Email 14: (May 26) (attached to email 13)

please iam weiting news from you.


After my husband responded, in my behalf, to PayPal, I got another email from PayPal. This one as titled: “We’ve sent your response”.

Thank you for providing a response to the case “Juan” filed against you.

“We are reviewing the facts of the case and will carefully consider all the material before making a decision. We will let you know if we need additional information from you, and will contact you when a decision has been reached.

“Please understand that until our review is complete, we will hold any funds associated with this transaction.”


In frustration, I posted a little bit about what had happened on a social media account where I have a private account. I also made a small post on a social media account that is not private, asking people who use Ko-fi if they like it better than PayPal. There is no doubt in my mind that it’s time for me to leave PayPal.

One of the things that helped keep me sane as I tried to sort out this PayPal problem that “Juan” created was the ability to talk to my best friend about the situation. She reached out to me, and helped me to understand that “Juan” was very likely a scammer. She pointed out that he was trying to push me into sending him the $740.00 as fast as possible – before the owner of whatever stolen credit card “Juan” used figured out what happened and closed that card’s account.

At the time I started writing this blog post, it had been approximately 24 hours since PayPal has sent me an email. “Juan” stopped sending me email about nineteen hours ago (from what I figure is his work account.)

I noticed that the work email had links to Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr. Just for fun, I did a search on Instagram (in a different browser window) for the name of the travel company. It exists, and is a private account. Typically, travel business accounts want to be as open as possible in order to attract customers.

But, this one is private, which makes me very suspicious of “Juan”, especially since the Instagram account is supposedly a travel company. There is also a second Instagram account with a similar name – and zero posts.


My hope was that PayPal would resolve this issue, based on all the information it had access to and the information my husband and I gave it. This is the first time PayPal held money from me – which I think is a good indication that they know “Juan” is a scammer.

On May 27, I got an email from PayPal. It was titled: “You’ve got a money request”. This was a legitimate email from PayPal, which “Juan” was abusing. The money request was titled: “Juan” sent you a money request.”

Note from “Juan”: Me dinero.

He is again demanding that I sent him $740, which I have absolutely no means of doing. PayPal never gave me access to that money. PayPal took a fee anyway, so even if PayPal decided this mess “Juan’s” favor, I still wouldn’t have $740 to send to “Juan”.

On May 30, PayPal sent me an email titled: “Status Update”. The most relevant part said: “We’re in the process of reviewing this case and have requested additional information from your buyer. We’ll let you know if we need any additional information.”

When I logged into PayPal, it showed that I have “1 bill that needs to be paid”. But, PayPay told me they would let me know if they needed any additional information. As such, I’m not going to do anything at all.


On June 2, I got another email from PayPal. It was titled: “You’ve got money”. My first thought was “Oh, no, not again!” I have reached the point where a PayPal email – announcing someone sent me money – causes me anxiety. Was this another email from “Juan”?

With reluctance, I opened the email from PayPal. It wasn’t from “Juan”. This was a new stranger. I will call him “Fred” (which is not his name.) “Fred” sent me $80.00. PayPal took a fee of $2.62.

There was a second email from PayPal waiting for me. This one was titled: “You’ve received a new case.” This has become a pattern.

PayPal wrote that “Fred” sent me a message regarding the following issue with this order: “The buyer stated that they never received the item. Here is the buyer’s message to you:”

“I sent the payment to the wrong person by mistake”.

My husband logged into my PayPal on my behalf to fix this problem. When “Fred” asked for their money back, PayPal put the money on hold. My husband sent “Fred” a refund that was less than $80.00 (because PayPal took a fee of $2.62). In short, we had to let PayPal take the $2.62 from our bank account.

In addition, my husband canceled “Juan’s” most recent money request. As a result, “Juan” immediately sent another money request. Half of the message from “Juan” was in Spanish, and half in English.

The Spanish part translates to: “My money thief !! Scammer !!” The English part said: “Back my money !! Thief”


My husband, on my behalf, logged into PayPal Customer Service. He sent them the following message (with unintentional typos in it).

“I need to close my account to income payments permanently. I have received a number of payments recently where the buyer claims they sent me the money by accident. When I refund them, I wind up having to pay the refund fees, which means I’m losing money. I can’t currently close my PayPal account because one of these transactions is outstanding. I DO NOT want to be able to receive PayPal payments any longer, starting today.”

While my husband was sending that message, I was posting things about this PayPal fiasco on social media. Overall, I was wondering how many other people had endured the same problems I had been having.

On Twitter, I posted: “Out of curiosity… have any of you accidentally sent the wrong person money on PayPal? I keep getting money sent to me by strangers who claim that the money was sent to the wrong person. I think it is a scam – that @PayPal isn’t doing anything about.”

I got a response from PayPal support: “Hi there, thank you for reaching out to PayPal. We apologize for any inconvenience caused. We understand that you have concerns regarding the payments you’re receiving to your PayPal account. Please send us a Direct Message with your details.”

My husband had already sent PayPal a message – so I decided not to send a duplicate one to the PayPal Support Twitter account.

My best friend added to this conversation on Twitter, tagging both me and PayPal. In short, she posted links that clarified that the “I sent you money by accident” thing is a scam. One link was from the Better Business Bureau and about this scam happening on Venmo.

The other link was to PayPal itself, where PayPal listed explanations of several common scams. One is called “Overpayment Scam“. It isn’t exactly what I’ve been experiencing – but has some similarities to it.

The “Overpayment Scam” is when a customer sends a PayPal payment that is more than the purchase price of the order and then asks you to wire them the difference. They may tell you that they accidentally overpaid you, the extra money is for the shipping costs, they’re giving you a bonus for your service, or the money is for the stress they’ve caused you. They may ask you to wire the shipping fees to their shipper.

This scammer may have paid with a stolen credit card, bank account number, or checking account.

PayPay states: Just because a payment has been deposited into your account, doesn’t mean the money is yours to keep. If the legitimate account holder reports unauthorized activity, the money can be withdrawn from your account. If that happens, you’ll lose the money you wired to the fraudster, the product you shipped, shipping costs, and your payment.


On another social media site, I created a poll for people to answer. The question was: “Have you ever accidentally sent money to the wrong person on PayPal?”

The choices were:

  • Yes, I have done that
  • No, I have never done that
  • want to see results

Almost immediately, the majority of responders selected “No, I have never done that”. Very few people selected “Yes, I have done that”. One person who picked “Yes” explained that they accidentally sent money to a PayPal account that had a very similar name to the person they were trying to send money to. Luckily, it turned out that the account was a second account of the person they were trying to send money to.


On June 3, 2021, I got another email from PayPal. It was titled: “New Messages are waiting for you”. It directed me to find the messages in PayPal’s Message Center. At this point, my husband was logging in for me while I was standing next to him so I could see the PayPal message on his computer. It was less time consuming than if I logged in and tried to explain it to him.

The message said: “We will start closing your account for as long as the dispute is already closed. Thank you for providing us information to help resolve your claim. I’ve added notes to the claim and it’s been escalated for final review. We will work as quickly as possible to resolve your claim and once resolved, we will notify you via email to provide you with an update regarding the status of your case – Michael”

A little while later, PayPal sent me a second email. This one was titled: “There’s an issue with a recent transaction.” “We recently notified you that a payment you received was made without the account holder’s permission or was the result of a transaction error.”

“This transaction is eligible for Seller Protection. To help resolve this issue, log into your PayPal account within the next 10 days and respond to our request for information in your Resolution Center. If you’ve already shipped the merchandise, let us know which shipping company you used, and provide the tracking number. We’ve placed a temporary hold on this transaction while we review it. We’re reviewing this case and will contact you if we need more information.”

I was immediately sent a third email from PayPal. “We’ve received new information on the case from your buyer”. The information was from, of course, “Juan”.

“Your buyer has changed the reason for this case. The buyer stated that they did not make this purchase. If you have any supporting documentation to help us resolve this case, please log in to your PayPal account and send it to us through our Resolution Center within 10 days. Thank you for your patience during this process. We appreciate your business.”

Here are the options that PayPal offers “sellers” after a “buyer” opens a case:

The first option is: “I’ve already shipped the product or provided the service.” I cannot pick that one because I never sold “Juan” anything at all whatsoever. He just randomly appeared one day and started harassing me.

The second option is: “I’ve already issued a refund.” That is simply not true. PayPal has held the majority of the $740 that “Juan” sent me – after charging me a fee.

The third option is: “I’ll issue a refund to my customer and close this case.” This really isn’t a reasonable option at all. Clearly, PayPal values the word of random scammers over the people the scammer targeted. My husband and I are stuck paying $740 to “Juan”. Not sure how that’s going to work, since PayPal has been holding the money – minus PayPal’s fee – since this whole mess started.

My husband and I decided to take the third option. It’s not a good option at all for people like me who have been targeted by a scammer. We clicked the button, and a new pop-up appeared:

It says: “Refund the sender”. “This amount will be refunded to the buyer and the case will be closed. The item will be retained by the buyer. Total refund: $740.00 USD.”

Between “Juan” and “Fred”, we now owe PayPal a total of $2.62 to “Fred” and $21.76 to “Juan”. PayPal earned $24.38 off of me so far, for two problems that I did not create or cause. My best guess is that PayPal is waiting for my bank to hand $21.76 to PayPal – even though PayPal already took it as fees.

It feels like we just helped a scammer launder money through PayPal.

Shortly after that, I got another email from PayPal, titled: “You’ve got a money request.” It was yet another note from “Juan”. He wrote: “My money back !! Please !! Is my 740!!”.

Five minutes later, PayPal sent me another email. This one was titled: “Reminder: You’ve still got a money request.” It was the exact same message from “Juan”.

Hours later, I got yet another email from PayPal titled: “You’ve got money”. There was a time, long ago, when seeing this title on a PayPal email would bring me joy. Now, it makes me extremely anxious.

A stranger sent me $1.00.

PayPay took a fee of $0.33.

PayPal is garbage.


While waiting for PayPal to release me from my torment – I decided to get on Instagram for the purpose of downloading my content. I’d done this before, but lost it. My goal was to make sure I had a copy of everything I put on Instagram so I could close my account. To its credit, Instagram made it very easy for me to download what I needed.

Instagram pointed out that I had a follow request (or whatever Insta calls that.) It just so happened to be from one of the two very questionable travel accounts that claim to be located in Peru. One of those accounts is private. The other has no photos.

I think it was the second one that tried to friend me. It could not immediately do so because my account is private. It’s been private for years. Fortunately, the decision to make my Instagram account private prevented what might very well be “Juan” from harassing me on Insta.

In the meantime, I started ripping out all the PayPal links on my blog and replacing them with Ko-fi links.


On June 4, 2021, two brand new emails from PayPal appeared. In short, “Juan”, once again, abused PayPal’s automated system in order make a new claim.

Previously, PayPal informed me: “Your buyer has changed the reason for this case. The buyer stated that they did not make this purchase.” Today, “Juan” has filed a new claim. The email from PayPal states: “Your buyer has changed the reason for this case. The buyer stated that they never received the item.”

“Juan” is now claiming that he did not make this purchase and that he never received the item. I’m beginning to think that Schrödinger’s cat has stolen “Juan’s” nonexistent item that he did not purchase but still expected to receive. Oh, and let’s not forget that I never sold anything at all to “Juan”.

Perhaps the cat has taken up work at PayPal. My husband and I have already used PayPal’s automated forms to tell the company to pay “Juan” – which apparently we cannot do, because PayPal is holding the majority of the money “Juan” sent (minus PayPal’s fee).

This entire situation is enraging, and exhausting. I cannot decide if I want to cry, or just start drinking. I am Schrödinger’s cat’s ennui.


On June 4, 2021, My husband responded to PayPal on my behalf. This was a good decision, as I am far beyond having any kind words for PayPal. He used the PayPal message center to attempt to contact a human. Unfortunately, the entire thing appears to be automated.

PayPal automated bot: Hi, I’m the PayPal Assistant. How can I help? Choose one of these options or add your question below.

My husband: I need to close my account to income payments permanently. I have received a number of payments recently where the buyer hen claims they sent me money by accident. When I refund them, I wind up having to pay the refund fees, which means I’m losing money. I can’t currently close my PayPal account because one of these transactions is outstanding. I DO NOT want to be able to receive PayPal payments any longer, starting today.

PayPal automated bot: Do you need help with a pending payment?

My husband: No

PayPal automated bot: I found some articles in our Help Center that might help you. Check them out! If you need more help, please rephrase your question or type “need more help”.

  • How do I send money?
  • How do I issue a full or partial refund?
  • How do I issue a refund using PayPal Here?

My husband: these links are not helpful.

PayPal automated bot: Would you like to send this conversation to a customer support agent? We typically respond within a few hours.

My husband: Yes

PayPal automated bot: If you haven’t already, let us know why you’re contacting us. Feel free to step away and we’ll notify you by email or push notification when we’ve responded.

My husband: I need to close my account to income payments permanently. I have received a number of payments recently where the buyer hen claims they sent me money by accident. When I refund them I wind up having to pay the refund fees, which means I’m losing money. I can’t currently close my PayPal account because one of these transactions is outstanding. I DO NOT want to be able to receive PayPal payments any longer, starting today.

Michael: We will start closing your account for as long as the dispute is already closed. Thank you for providing us information to help resolve your claim. I’ve added notes to the claim and it’s been escalated for final review. We will work as quickly as possible to resolve your claim and once resolved, we will notify you via email to provide you an update regarding the status of your case.


On June 5, PayPal sent me another email. “New messages are waiting for you.” It directed me to find the messages in PayPal’s Message Center.

There was a second email from PayPal. This was was titled: “Congrats!”

You’ve received a $5.00 USD Reward.

This reward will automatically be applied to your next eligible purchase when you checkout with PayPal. Once redeemed, your Reward will be reflected on your PayPal receipt or in your PayPal transaction details. Thanks again for being a great PayPal customer.

My first thought was that this was a phishing email. There was absolutely no way that I was going to click on anything in that email! Instead, I logged into the PayPal website and looked at the Message Center.

There was a banner at the top of the outward-facing PayPal website – advertising $5.00 for PayPal users. It was real! The timing of this was absolutely terrible. I absolutely did not want any money from PayPal. I chose to ignore this offer.


On June 6, 2021, PayPal sent me another email. This one was titled: “We’ve sent your response”.

Thank you for providing a response to the case “Juan” filed against you.

We are reviewing the facts of the case and will carefully consider all the material before making a decision. We will let you know if we need additional information from you, and will contact you when a decision has been made.


On June 7, 2021, my husband, on my behalf, once again had to log into my PayPal account (with my permission) to try and get this issue resolved. As before, he got stuck trying to sort this out with an automated bot.

PayPal automated bot: Hi, I’m the PayPal Assistant. How can I help? Choose one of these options or add your question below.”

My husband: Dispute Status

PayPal automated bot: Great! Please select your dispute from the list below:

My husband: [selected a transaction ID that corresponds to the scammer’s claim, the amount the scammer is demanding, and the date the scammer sent this attack (May 25)]

PayPal automated bot: We are waiting on additional information from you to proceed with the review of this claim. Please respond by. To respond:

  • Go to the Resolution Center
  • Click Respond in the Action column next to your claim.
  • Select how you would like to respond

PayPal automated bot: Are you looking to upload additional information to support your case?

My husband: Yes

PayPal automated bot: Sure. Please click on this link to upload additional documents.

PayPal automated bot: Did this help resolve the issue or question you had?

My husband: No, I need more help

PayPal automated bot: Would you like to send this conversation to a customer support agent? We typically respond within a few hours.

My husband: Yes

PayPal automated bot: If you haven’t already, let us know why you’re contacting us. Feel free to step away and we’ll notify you by email or push notification when we’ve responded.

My husband: PayPal has asked me to provide a response but I’m unsure what to do. Note: I am putting “buyer” within quote marks in this message because “buyer” is the term PayPal prefers to use for someone who sends me. I never agreed to actual sell the “buyer” anything.

If PayPal has an actual payment from the “buyer,” then please just refund that payment. If PayPal doesn’t have a payment from the “buyer,” then the transaction should be canceled.

I never entered into an agreement with the “buyer.” The “buyer” claims they sent a payment to me and then immediately disputed the payment with PayPal.

Is the “buyer” attempting to run some sort of scam? Again, I never made an agreement with them. I never even heard of them before they allegedly sent a payment to me.

If PayPal is releasing an actual payment from the “buyer,” it’s fine to just refund that to them. But this payment was sent to me in error. I do not want to have to pay refund or other fees on this transaction.

If PayPal never actually received funds from the “buyer,” they are likely committing fraud and trying to get me to “refund” them money they are not owed.

Again: I never agreed to any transaction with this “buyer.” If they did in fact send me a payment before disputing it, that was their mistake.

Since the original dispute was filed, I have received numerous abusive/harassing e-mails from the “buyer.” The “buyer” has also sent multiple payment requests outside of the original disputed transaction. Each time I have canceled these fraudulent requests, the “buyer” just sends another one.

Once again, to be abundantly clear: if PayPal is holding an actual payment from the “buyer,” please just give it back to them. If no actual funds were received from the “buyer,” then PayPal should cancel the transaction and investigate it as fraud. I NEVER ENTERED INTO ANY KIND OF AGREEMENT WITH THE “BUYER.” Please resolve this issue as quickly as possible. The constant stream of abuse from the “buyer” is very stressful to deal with, especially when NONE OF THIS IS MY FAULT. I received a random payment from someone who made a mistake or is actively committing fraud. Please take care of this as soon as possible.

That message was sent by my husband at 12:32 PM.


We got a message from a customer support agent at 5:43 AM on June 8, 2021. It was sent by Manuelito.

Hi Jennifer you’ve reach Jay from PayPal Messaging and I will be assisting you today. I was able to check your case here on our system and in order for us to help you win this case you can upload a tracking number or send it here on this conversation also the proof of shipment will use as your supporting document.

If you’re still communicating with the seller and have not escalated your dispute to a claim, go to the Resolution Center and check for any new dispute messages:

  • Go to the Resolution Center.
  • Select Open Cases from the list and choose the claim you want to check.
  • Click View in the Action column.

You’ll see the next steps for your case under “What happens next.” If we’re already reviewing your claim, you’ll see an estimated resolution date.

“If you can’t find your claim:

  • Select All Closed Cases from the View list.
  • Click the Case ID to check its status.

As I can see here that you’ve been with PayPal since 2004 and as a Loyal customer I can give you a credit voucher amounting of $5 so you can use it for online purchase and it will show up automatically while you on the checkout page and this voucher is for [redacted] with all the details.

Feel free to visit us to our web page at www.paypal.com/smarthelp and don’t hesitate to ask any information that you need. I am glad that I was able to resolve your concern and we appreciate doing business with you. Rest assured your account is safe and secured in PayPal. Again, my name is Jay. You may now click the “end message” or if you are able to see the “X” button please click the button.

So far, we have heard from Michael, and Jay (via Manuelito).

Obviously the request for a tracking number, and proof of shipment, for an item “Juan” NEVER purchased from me – an item that does not exist – is impossible. There is no item. There was never an agreement for me to send any item to “Juan”. Clearly, PayPal values the word of scammers over innocent people like me (whom PayPal described as a “Loyal customer”.)


On June 9, 2021, my husband took the remaining money out of my PayPal account. There is a “friends and family” thing on PayPal which enables someone to send money to a friend or family member without incurring a fee from PayPal. This seemed the safest option.

PayPal sent me an email notifying me about this transaction. Several hours later, I got a second email from PayPal informing me that my eCheck payment cleared.


On June 10, 2021, there was another message in my PayPal Message Center. It was from a customer service person named Monica. She was responding to a question my husband sent on my behalf. The question was: “How do I close my PayPal account?” Here is part of her message to me:

It was great talking to you today. As mentioned during our conversation, here is the additional information we discussed.

If there’s a chance that you might want to use PayPal in the future, it’s a good idea to keep your account open. There’s no fee to keep your account open.

What followed was a list of instructions about the steps one should take if they want to close their PayPal account.

I would like to point out that Monica’s statement: “There’s no fee to keep your account open.” is a lie. I’ve been getting hit with fee, after fee, after fee. I’m trying to close my account before I get hit with more random fees.


Later on June 10, 2021, I got a terrible email from PayPal. This one was titled: “Case Decided”. It said:

We’ve completed our review of this case and decided in favor of your buyer. The buyer stated they never received the item, and the proof of delivery details could not be verified….

We refunded $740.00 USD to the buyer

We have charged you a Dispute Fee of $15.00 USD, since your account was categorized into Standard Dispute Fee tier when it was filed. For more details about the Dispute Fee, please see our User Agreement.

My interpretation of this is that PayPal intentionally makes it impossible for the “seller” – whose “buyer” didn’t actually purchase anything at all – to win a case. All the options PayPal gave me to fight “Juan’s” scammy claims were impossible.

There was never an option for me (or my husband on my behalf) to connect with a real person at PayPal. The automated options are all in favor of buyers – and scammers like “Juan” have learned how to use it to their benefit. As such, he will probably repeat this con over and over again. PayPal enables scammers.

I honestly feel like I’ve been used by this scammer to launder his stolen money through PayPal.


On June 10, 2021, my husband put $36.76 back into my PayPal account. It covered the $15.00 Dispute fee that PayPal imposed upon us. It also covered the $21.72 cut that PayPal took from “Juan’s” $740.00 – preventing us from just sending it back to him ourselves. Two fees on the same transaction. The phrase “double dipping” comes to mind.

Also on June 10, 2021, PayPal sent me an email titled: “How to avoid cases”. I had absolutely no need for this email, considering that I had already decided I wanted to close my PayPal account. Doing so will entirely avoid all possible cases!

Here is some of the information from that email:

Tips for fewer cases and smoother business.

Help keep customers happy and your business running smoothly. Try these methods to help prevent cases from being filed in the first place.

  • Communicate openly
  • Be detailed and accurate
  • Stay proactive

There a short paragraph underneath each of those headers, but none of it applied to me. For whatever reason, PayPal has decided that I was a “Seller”. I’ve never sold anything through PayPal. At most, I was attempting to use PayPal the way most people would use Ko-fi – as a “Tip Jar”.

I’ve never sold anything through PayPal, and I don’t make any physical products that could be shipped out.


On June 11, 2021. I got a series of emails from PayPal. What spawned this set of emails was my husband, who on my behalf, attempted once again to get PayPal to close my account.

PayPal automated bot: Hi, I’m the PayPal Assistant. How can I help? Choose one of these options or add your question below.

My husband: Close Account.

PayPal automated bot: We’re sorry to hear that you’re thinking about closing your account. There’s no fee to keep your account open so if there’s a chance that you might want to use our service in the future, it’s a good idea to keep your account open.

PayPal automated bot: If you’ve considered the above and still wish to close your account, please choose one of the options below:

My husband: I’m having trouble closing my account.

PayPal automated bot: You have 1 issue prevent you from closing your account.

PayPal automated bot: The account cannot be closed at this time due to one or more open cases on your account. This can be due to a dispute claim, chargeback or other type of investigation currently open on a transaction. Once all open cases are resolved, you may attempt closing your account again.

PayPal automated bot: Did this help resolve the issue or question you had?

My husband: No, I need more help.

PayPal automated bot: Would you like to send this conversation to a customer support agent? We typically respond within a few hours.

My husband: Yes

PayPal automated bot: If you haven’t already, let us know why you’re contacting us. Feel free to step away and we’ll notify you by email or push notification when we’ve responded.

My husband: I would like to permanently close my PayPal account. I’m being told I can’t close the account due to an open case. Ther are no open cases on the account. Please just close the account as soon as possible.

At 10:26 PM on June 11, 2021, a customer support agent name Monica responded:

Welcome to PayPal messaging! My name is Monica and I’ll be assisting you with account closure.

We’re sorry to hear your thinking about closing your PayPal account. There is one case [redacted] that is preventing us to close the account. No worries I will closely monitor the account and manually close it for you after 10 days. Please note that once we closed the account we cannot undone the account closure.

If you have no further questions, please close this conversation. You can close the conversation by selecting End Conversation or by clicking the “X”. If you respond to this message, another agent will follow up with you.

My husband: Hi Monica,

During the 10 day period before the account can be closed, is it possible to block my account from receiving incoming payments? The problem I have with PayPal is I keep getting “accidental” payments from people who then dispute the payments and I get charged fees. I don’t want to deal with that again, which is why I want to close the account.


At 8:12 AM on June 11, 2021, Annaliza responded:

To assist you further, I’m transferring this message to our Dispute and Claims Department, so please do not end this session yet. They’ll review our previous conversation and get back to you. The response may not be immediate, but you’ll get a notification via email, App and within your PayPal account as soon as they reply.

If you have further questions or concern, you can always visit our resolution center at [redacted] and help center at [redacted].

It’s my pleasure helping you out today. Again, my name is Anna Thank you for contacting PayPal and for being a valued customer. If you have no further questions, please close this conversation. You can close the conversation by selecting End Conversation or by clicking the “X.

Maybe I was right, PayPal has been taken over by Schrödinger’s cat after all! The case has been settled – and has not been settled -at the same time. Annaliza told us “please do not end this session yet” – and then gave us instructions on how to End Conversation.


At 11:39 AM on June 11, 2021, Wilma responded:

I apologize for the inconvenience caused. That’s certainly not the type of experience we would like you to have. No worries. I’d be glad to check into your account. As I review on the dispute case, the seller responded as the seller said that your query is resolve.

This is very confusing. So far, PayPal has been identifying me as the seller. What exactly was Wilma looking at? Did she somehow confuse who was the buyer and who was the seller?

It is possible that Wilma,and the other PayPal customer support agents, do not have English as a first language? This might explain why PayPal entirely prevents people from connecting with a real human being. It also explains some of the confusing word choices made by the customer support agents.

Was Wilma trying to tell me that I – the seller – had responded to “Juan’s” dispute? I didn’t have the option of responding directly to “Juan”. Maybe she thinks that by paying “Juan” – under duress from PayPal – was my “the seller’s” response? Wilma also said something that kind of sounds like the case is resolved. Does this mean I can close my PayPal account now? I have absolutely no idea.

Wilma gave us instructions on how to close a dispute:

  • On the top right, click Resolution Center.
  • Click View next to the dispute you want to close.
  • Click Close this dispute. A dispute will automatically close if it is not resolved or escalated within 20 calendar days.
  • Let the seller know why you’re closing the dispute, then click Close dispute.

Tips:

  • Remember that once you close a dispute, it can’t be re-opened or escalated to a claim.
  • If the seller agrees to refund your money or ships your item, don’t close the dispute until the money is in your PayPal account or you’ve received the item because you cannot re-open a dispute.

Once the case is close, you can now closed your account.

Wilma then repeated pretty much the same information that Annaliza mentioned about selecting End Message or clicking the “X”.


All that was left to do was wait. My assumption was that PayPal would close “Juan’s” case – and perhaps notify me that this awful experience was finally over. But, that didn’t happen. PayPal, which has sent me frequent (and unwanted) emails …. was suddenly silent.

I logged into PayPal a few times just to check on things. My husband had already removed all the money from the account. No scammers had found me since the “Juan” problem got resolved. My hope was to kill my PayPal account before any new nefarious people found it – and attempted to launder money through it.

In the meantime, as I mentioned, I continued to rip out more PayPal links from my blog and replaced them with Ko-fi links. My thought was that scammers would no longer be able to cause me harm through PayPal if they couldn’t find a link that would lead them to it.


On June 30, 2021, I asked my husband to log into my PayPal account in the hopes that we could close it. I am absolutely delighted to report that PayPal allowed us to close my account! I will never have to deal with a PayPal scammer ever again!

You might think that when a person closes a PayPal account it means PayPal simply closes the account. Not so! It turns out that if you have money in your account, PayPal will take a check processing fee of $1.50. PayPal pointed out: “If your balance is the equivalent of $1.50 or less, you will not receive a check.”

It was smart of us to remove all the money from my PayPal account before closing it. No money? No fee!

PayPal makes people fill out a “Reason for closing account” survey. You can choose up to three reasons why you wanted to close your account. We only needed one: “Fees are too high.”

Filling out the survey spawns another thing that must be filled out. PayPal asks for a comment. Please enter thoughts or concerns about the PayPal service. A box was provided for that information.

My husband posted (on my behalf) “Tired of having to pay refund and dispute fees on payments that were sent to me accidentally.”

It’s not over yet! PayPal starts what I consider to be an automated version of gaslighting. The automated system tries to make you reconsider closing your PayPal account.

Do you want to close your account? It’s free to send money with PayPal personal accounts. For business and premier accounts, fees are applied when you accept a payment. If you don’t receive money, you don’t pay a penny.

There is a link to a “fees calculator”. I noticed that it says fees – plural – not fee – singular. This might be the only time PayPal has been somewhat honest about its intent to charge people fee, after fee, after fee!

There are two options at the bottom of this section: “Continue” or “Cancel”. Of course, my husband (on my behalf) chose “Continue”.

Doing so, of course, resulted in more gaslighting from PayPal’s automated process.

Contact us. Your satisfaction and continued use of our service is important to us. Please contact us to discuss and resolve any account concerns that you may have. If you wish, you can still choose to close your account by clicking Confirm.

It dawns on me that PayPal acts like an abusive partner. It allowed strangers to harass me, and did nothing to stop it. PayPal blames me for the stranger’s action – knowing I did nothing to cause it. PayPal takes a fee from the amount of money the stranger sent – before I ever see it. Then, when the stranger asks for the money back – I have to give PayPal more money to make up for what PayPal grabbed away without my permission. After all of that frustration, PayPal has the audacity to make me pay dispute fees every time this problem happens.

When PayPal finally understood that I was going to leave it – right now – and never come back… It suddenly attempts to cajole me back in. It asks why I want to leave. Then, it makes me explain why I want to leave. It tries to convince me that its repetitive abuse (fee after fee) is acceptable, in the hopes I won’t leave.

Finally, it posts a response that is a lie. “Please contact us to discuss and resolve any account concerns you may have.” My husband and I have tried to do that – several times – only to be given the runaround or ignored. But, it wants me to believe that this time will be different.

If you wish, you can still choose to close your account by clicking confirm“.

Again, this is a form of gaslighting. PayPal is trying to make me think that I am the one who did something wrong, and trying to guilt me into staying. This is abuse.

My husband, (on my behalf) clicked the Confirm button, closing my account, and ending connection to PayPal.


Unfortunately, things weren’t entirely over. My account was closed, but PayPal, like a jilted ex-lover, decided to immediately send me email. This email had three parts, each connected to the previous one.

Oddly enough, there was no specific mention in the email that stated that my account had been closed. Instead, the three-emails-in-one informed me that I would no longer have access to three things that I apparently had connected my PayPal to in the past. One was to a Patreon account I closed a long time ago. The other two seemed random.

If there is a “takeaway” from this long, frustrating, experience, it is this: Don’t use PayPal.

Why I Closed My PayPal Account is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.

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