I recently received the following email:

I want to buy your 1080 ti and to be ship to my store in malaysia I will offer you the amount listed plus the shipment charges $700 all together also if there is more of it or any brand let me know. And payment via my PayPal, text me back on my business line if the item is still available ( 908.__455.__8461 ) waiting to hear back from you soon. so i can pay-in your funds thanks

Don't worry, I am certainlly not accepting this offer.

Despite the incredibly sketchy-looking overall appearance of this message, the account that sent this is brand new, and has no feedback whatsoever. That, and the offer is simply far too good to be true makes me almost 100% certain that this offer is NOT legitimate.

Even if the sender did have an electronics store in Malaysia, there is no possible way to make a profit here buying the card I have listed and reselling it. (I assure you that a used 1080 Ti is not worth anywhere close to $1,210).

In plenty of other examples of scams on this site, when someone offers you a large amount of money to cover a supposed delivery cost, they will pretend they overpaid and request a portion of it back via a non-refunable means (pre-paid gift cards, Western Union, etc). However, since the transaction would take place using eBay through PayPal, wouldn't ebay's dispute resolution process prevent the buyer from simply being able to dispute the PayPal charge and get their $700 back?

I did notice though that the message is blatantly trying to get me to arrange the sale outside of ebay (seriously... who writes a phone number in such an awkward and obviously filter-circumventing manner?) Perhaps ebay's ordinary systems would prevent this scam from working, and that is why the buyer wants to be contacted directly?

How is this scam supposed to work?

  • 4
    I don't in any way doubt it is a scam, but my reading of – as you say a "confusing" email – is that he is offering $700 in total: i.e. ( "the amount listed" + "the shipment charges" ) = $700 all together. If your figure of $1,210 means the list price is $510 (=1210-700), then this still means they're offering $190 for shipping, which is excessive enough that it still screams scam.
    – TripeHound
    Dec 13, 2019 at 8:04
  • This is actually a relly popular method: money.stackexchange.com/questions/71918/money-transfer-scam
    – kioleanu
    Dec 13, 2019 at 9:29
  • I received exact message for a macbook i'm selling on ebay. The message was an "image" so it is not caught by ebay. brand new userid, created day of message. i reported it to ebay. they have this message thread.
    – smitty363
    Feb 20, 2021 at 14:38

2 Answers 2


Money laundering

The scammer obtained unauthorized access to someones PayPal account through phishing, spyware or some other illegal method. The scammer can not just move money directly from the account to their own, because that would be too easy to trace for law enforcement. They would get caught immediately. So they need a "mule" to launder the money in some way which is harder to trace.

So they will send you the money from the hacked PayPal account. Then they will make up some reason why you have to refund the money, but they will come up with some reason why you must not just send the money back to the PayPal account they sent it from. They will ask you to use a different payment method which happens to be next to impossible to reverse or trace. Popular methods are Western Union or refundable gift card codes.

The rightful owner of the PayPal account will sooner or later realize that they are out of $700 and get the transfer reversed. You will now be out ouf $700 but be unable to reverse the $700 transfer back to the scammer.

Advanced Fee Fraud

The scammer promises to send you the money, but will make up some reason why you need to pay some small fee to somewhere in order to allow them to do that. They might claim that you have to prove that your account actually exists or that the money is held up by some obscure bureaucratic process and you need to pay some fee to get it moving.

If you do pay the advanced fee, they will make up some other reason why you need to pay an even larger fee.

If you realize you are being played, they will break contract. You will never receive the originally promised money, because it does not exist.

  • Couldn't you just refuse the refund, or only agree to refund to the original PayPal account?
    – komodosp
    Dec 13, 2019 at 16:39
  • @colmde Of course you could. And it is what you should be doing. It's not like the scammer is risking their own money by doing that.
    – Philipp
    Dec 13, 2019 at 16:41

Had a similar offer selling a cellphone. The wanted me to send it to "Westafrica" and wanted to pay me 50€ extra, via papal. Also new account. I stalled a bit and then I asked for the address - the contact went silent.

So here is my guess: This could be a targeted phishing-attempt.

Paypal works via e-mail-address. So the scammer can send you a targeted phishing mail that states something like "buyer xy has just transferred $700 to your account. Please log in here to see further details ..."

And of course the here part would point to the scammers site to get your account details.

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