Nov 082012

By W.H.A.|

I received the following question today:


Hello. I’m selling an item but the buyer’s payment (made through Paypal) is on hold until I pay the shipper’s fee. Is there any way that a payment on hold from Paypal for a reason of payment to a shipping agent can be released?

Can Paypal and my local Western Union get together to complete the payment without the seller getting ahold of funds? I have a $2,850 payment on hold because buyer wanted me to pay shipping agent $900.00 and then I would get credited with the money after said transfer. I am unable to get funds so I want Paypal to send it to a Western Union and take care of it that way.. is that possible?

– Patrick


Cargo ship.

Shipping agent fee?

Patrick, you are being scammed.┬áThere is in fact no $2,850 payment on hold, and the “shipping agent” is fake. If you make that payment to the shipping agent, the “buyer” will disappear, and you will receive nothing.

This is a fairly new type of scam that almost always involves Paypal and Western Union. A “buyer” contacts you, expressing interest in some expensive item you are selling – often something you’ve advertised on Craigslist. The catch is that the buyer has his own shipping agent who will pick up the item, and you must pay the shipper.

The buyer claims to have deposited the funds in an escrow account, or in your case Patrick, he claims to have paid through Paypal but the funds are “on hold” until the shipper’s fee is paid. The scammer might send you a fake Paypal notification email, indicating that funds have been received in your account, or explaining why the funds are on hold. You are asked to pay the shipping agent by Western Union.

In reality, the shipping agent’s fee itself is the scam. The scammer takes that money and splits, paying you nothing.

See Woody Leonhard’s investigation of this type of scam here:

New “419” scam involves Paypal and Western Union

I’m glad you wrote to me before paying anything! Take care.

– W.H.A.