How to spot scams like "PayPal - Unauthorized Transaction" email scam

Also Known As: PayPal - Unauthorized Transaction phishing campaign
Damage level: Medium

What is "PayPal - Unauthorized Transaction"?

After reviewing this email, it has become evident that it is a fraudulent message impersonating PayPal and sent by malicious actors. The intention behind this email is to trick recipients into divulging sensitive data and potentially initiating financial transfers. Thus, recipients are strongly advised to ignore this email.

PayPal - Unauthorized Transaction email spam campaign

More about the "PayPal - Unauthorized Transaction" scam email

This fraudulent email claims to be from PayPal and focuses on a supposed unauthorized transaction. The scammers provide a phone number and request the recipient to call them to cancel the order, suggesting a charge of $699.88. The email lists an order ID and transaction ID for an iPhone 13 Pro in Sierra Blue, along with other details.

It is important to note that this email is a classic example of a phishing attempt, as the scammers aim to trick recipients into revealing personal and financial information or making contact through the provided phone numbers, ultimately to perpetrate fraud or steal funds. Legitimate organizations like PayPal typically do not ask customers to call phone numbers directly from unsolicited emails.

Scammers behind fraudulent emails like the one typically aim to trick recipients into divulging sensitive personal information, such as login credentials, credit card details, social security numbers, or other confidential data. Also, they can try to deceive recipients into making financial transactions, often under the guise of a legitimate payment or purchase.

Awareness and skepticism when encountering unsolicited emails, especially those with suspicious content or requests, are essential to thwart these malicious efforts and protect personal information and assets.

Threat Summary:
Name PayPal - Unauthorized Transaction Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim An unauthorized transaction from PayPal account has been noticed
Scammer's Number +1(443)457-0455; +1(530)637-8244, 845-809-4652, (804) 223-0929
Disguise Letter from PayPal
Symptoms Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of the computer.
Distribution methods Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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Similar emails in general

Usually, such emails use urgent, alarming, or threatening language to pressure recipients into quick action. Scammers frequently impersonate legitimate organizations or well-known brands. They use official logos, branding, and email addresses that closely resemble those of trusted entities, making it harder for recipients to identify the deception.

It is important to mention that such emails can include links to fake websites or attachments that, when opened, can lead to malware installation.

Examples of similar emails are "Your Messages Couldn't Be Delivered", "Email Deactivation In Progress", and "Routine System Maintenance".

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Users can inadvertently infect their computers via email through various means. Malicious email attachments often contain malware that infiltrates the system when opened. Enabling macros in attached documents, as prompted by certain emails, can also activate hidden malicious scripts.

Additionally, clicking on malicious links within emails can redirect users to harmful websites, where malware may be introduced using tactics like drive-by downloads or social engineering.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Exercise constant vigilance when handling email attachments and links to safeguard your system from malware, particularly if the sender is unfamiliar or the email appears dubious. Refrain from clicking on advertisements from unverified sources and steer clear of visiting questionable websites.

Maintain the security of your system by frequently updating your operating system, applications, and web browsers. Ensure that you exclusively obtain files and programs from reliable sources, such as official websites or authorized app stores.

If you have already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Appearance of the "PayPal - Unauthorized Transaction" scam email (GIF):

PayPal - Unauthorized Transaction Email Scam appearance

Text presented in the email letter:


Transaction Date: 09/29/2023

Customer Support Team: +1(530)637-8244 +1(443)457-0455

Dear Customer,

We have noticed an unauthorized transaction from your PayPal account. If this transaction was not made by you, please call us to cancel this order. Otherwise, your $699.88 will be charged today.

Order Id: PAY04GS5581
Transaction Id: PPLL4357MA9What’s in the Box

iPhone 13 Pro, 512GB, Sierra Blue - Unlocked (Renewed Premium)
Size: 512GB
Color: Sierra Blue

Description Quantity Specification Amount
iPhone 15 Pro 01 512GB Sierra Blue $699.88

Ensuring the security of your PayPal account is our highest priority, and we are committed to resolving any issues together in order to protect it.

Team PayPal

Customer Support Team: +1(443)457-0455 / +1(530)637-8244

Another example of an email from "PayPal - Unauthorized Transaction" spam campaign:

PayPal - Unauthorized Transaction Email Scam (2024-02-04)

Text presented within:


Dear Customer,

We notice unauthorized transactions from your PayPal account If This transaction is not Made by you then kindly call us for a query of this order otherwise, your $387.99 USD has been charged today. If you want to cancel this order, give us call on Helpline Number: +1 (828) 515-1743

Transaction Details

Product Name Amount Transaction ID
BITCOIN $387.99 H7T6R5FD6-H7T6R5G74V

Date of transaction: 22/JAN/2024

Customer ID: G6R5E4WQ6GH6

Thank you for choosing our service.

If you do not authorize this transaction or if you didn't made this purchase please contact our support team at the earliest to cancel it or to issue a refund

+1 (828) 515-1743

Copyright @ 2023PayPal. All rights reserved

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Quick menu:

Types of malicious emails:

Phishing email icon Phishing Emails

Most commonly, cybercriminals use deceptive emails to trick Internet users into giving away their sensitive private information, for example, login information for various online services, email accounts, or online banking information.

Such attacks are called phishing. In a phishing attack, cybercriminals usually send an email message with some popular service logo (for example, Microsoft, DHL, Amazon, Netflix), create urgency (wrong shipping address, expired password, etc.), and place a link which they hope their potential victims will click on.

After clicking the link presented in such email message, victims are redirected to a fake website that looks identical or extremely similar to the original one. Victims are then asked to enter their password, credit card details, or some other information that gets stolen by cybercriminals.

Email-virus icon Emails with Malicious Attachments

Another popular attack vector is email spam with malicious attachments that infect users' computers with malware. Malicious attachments usually carry trojans that are capable of stealing passwords, banking information, and other sensitive information.

In such attacks, cybercriminals' main goal is to trick their potential victims into opening an infected email attachment. To achieve this goal, email messages usually talk about recently received invoices, faxes, or voice messages.

If a potential victim falls for the lure and opens the attachment, their computers get infected, and cybercriminals can collect a lot of sensitive information.

While it's a more complicated method to steal personal information (spam filters and antivirus programs usually detect such attempts), if successful, cybercriminals can get a much wider array of data and can collect information for a long period of time.

Sextortion email icon Sextortion Emails

This is a type of phishing. In this case, users receive an email claiming that a cybercriminal could access the webcam of the potential victim and has a video recording of one's masturbation.

To get rid of the video, victims are asked to pay a ransom (usually using Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency). Nevertheless, all of these claims are false - users who receive such emails should ignore and delete them.

How to spot a malicious email?

While cyber criminals try to make their lure emails look trustworthy, here are some things that you should look for when trying to spot a phishing email:

  • Check the sender's ("from") email address: Hover your mouse over the "from" address and check if it's legitimate. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft, be sure to check if the email address is @microsoft.com and not something suspicious like @m1crosoft.com, @microsfot.com, @account-security-noreply.com, etc.
  • Check for generic greetings: If the greeting in the email is "Dear user", "Dear @youremail.com", "Dear valued customer", this should raise suspiciousness. Most commonly, companies call you by your name. Lack of this information could signal a phishing attempt.
  • Check the links in the email: Hover your mouse over the link presented in the email, if the link that appears seems suspicious, don't click it. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft and the link in the email shows that it will go to firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0... you shouldn't trust it. It's best not to click any links in the emails but to visit the company website that sent you the email in the first place.
  • Don't blindly trust email attachments: Most commonly, legitimate companies will ask you to log in to their website and to view any documents there; if you received an email with an attachment, it's a good idea to scan it with an antivirus application. Infected email attachments are a common attack vector used by cybercriminals.

To minimise the risk of opening phishing and malicious emails we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows

Example of a spam email:

Example of an email spam

What to do if you fell for an email scam?

  • If you clicked on a link in a phishing email and entered your password - be sure to change your password as soon as possible. Usually, cybercriminals collect stolen credentials and then sell them to other groups that use them for malicious purposes. If you change your password in a timely manner, there's a chance that criminals won't have enough time to do any damage.
  • If you entered your credit card information - contact your bank as soon as possible and explain the situation. There's a good chance that you will need to cancel your compromised credit card and get a new one.
  • If you see any signs of identity theft - you should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission. This institution will collect information about your situation and create a personal recovery plan.
  • If you opened a malicious attachment - your computer is probably infected, you should scan it with a reputable antivirus application. For this purpose, we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
  • Help other Internet users - report phishing emails to Anti-Phishing Working Group, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, National Fraud Information Center and U.S. Department of Justice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why did I receive this email?

Phishers often send emails to a large number of email addresses, hoping that some recipients will fall for the scam. These phishing attempts are usually not personalized and are sent to a wide audience.

I have provided my personal information when tricked by this email, what should I do?

If you have provided login credentials, change the passwords for the affected accounts as soon as possible. Contact your bank or credit card company immediately if you have provided financial information.

I have downloaded and opened a malicious file attached to an email, is my computer infected?

If you have downloaded and opened a malicious file attached to an email, there is a risk that your computer may be infected. However, the actual infection status depends on several factors, including the type of malware, the opened file type, your operating system's security settings, and whether your security software was able to detect and block the threat.

I have read the email but did not open the attachment, is my computer infected?

If you have read an email but did not open the attachment, your computer is not infected. Opening an attachment is typically the action that triggers potential malware execution.

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections that were present in email attachment?

Combo Cleaner can effectively identify and remove nearly all recognized malware infections. It is important to note that sophisticated malware often hides itself deep within the system, necessitating the importance of performing a comprehensive system scan.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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