Summary: This month’s travel mishap – I fell prey to an internet scam by a “Paypal tech support.”
Last month I finally mustered the courage to go back on the nomad road. I moved cross-country from NY to Las Vegas. It’s been a forever dream of mine to explore out west.
Covid and other fears held me back for a long time. I judged myself for being an irresponsible global citizen if I traveled, and I had acutely felt the terror of Covid when I nearly lost my father to it.
But the more I lived in fear, the more it grew, the harder it became to make even simple decisions, and the further and further away I got from being the kind of person I ideally wanted to be.
I realized what started as well-intentional reasons were becoming cleverly-disguised excuses, and I was letting them hold me back. So I knew I had to make a change.
I can still be cautious with distancing, masks, and keeping to nature/national parks, but I want to keep growing towards the most authentic version of myself.
I nearly regretted leaving my comfort zone though. It’s been a rough transition back to the outside world.
It felt like one bad thing happened after another. My grandpa in China passed away, I got into a minor car accident, and then while trying to pay off the repair, got scammed by someone claiming to be a “Paypal tech support.”
He told me to send money to his supervisors so they could encrypt them into a secure payment to the original party I was trying to pay to.
I even called another number for Paypal to check if “Martin Devis” really was a Paypal employee, and he said he was and even provided a desk number. I had gotten the number from a top result of a Google Search.
I was so stressed out and sleep-deprived that my usual radar wasn’t working, or rather my worrying was all used up in the wrong places.
I’m just wanted to make a quick post to warn others about these Internet scammers. They are VERY convincing and use all sorts of tactics to make themselves look legitimate.
I recorded my experiences over Youtube video, if anyone would like more details on how I got scammed. My bank and Paypal could not do anything to dispute or retrieve the transactions because they were “authorized”/aided because I was involved in them (the scammer had me share my phone screen for nearly 4 hours!!).
The local police refused to take my case because it was not tied to any physical location. They told me all I could do was report it to the FTC and IC3. I did but have not heard back (it’s been 2 weeks).
I also called back the scammer later, while recording on Zoom video, just in case they needed more evidence that this was a real person who made all these claims.
It’s funny how he wouldn’t even admit to it even when I told him I got in touch with the real Paypal support team and they did not see any activity on my account with someone trying to create this “secure payment pool.” There are also no “blocks” preventing the scammer from refunding me the $1709.05 I had sent him. He kept trying to get me to share my phone screen again so he could take more of my personal information and telling me to buy more gift cards so he could “put money onto them.”
I changed all my passwords but still don’t feel safe. I saw an unrecognized device using my Apple account and booted them off. I don’t even know if I should be sharing any of this in case they try to retaliate.
I felt so violated, stupid, naive, and unsafe… I realized that even after all my years of conscious inner work, my harsh inner critic still comes out in times of severe stress, making me feel like I’m back at square one/haven’t made any progress at all.
It feels like it’s going to be an ongoing battle, something I will always have to manage rather than be able to fully get rid of.
I also struggle to take away lessons from this. I don’t want to fall prey to toxic positivity and find a silver lining in everything. I don’t want to mask important negative emotions. But I also don’t want to dwell in negativity or self-pity. Where do we draw the line?
I know I still have my health, am grateful this didn’t put me into debt, and all these could’ve been much worse. I also know I am not alone in being a victim of an internet scam.
I guess it was a reminder that life inherently has risk when you try to live it fully. I was hiding in fear the past year, barely leaving my home. I was safe, but I was stagnant.
I had become almost perfectionistic in my thinking of about how I wanted everything to go. So when life threw some curveballs, I broke down. I’m learning to re-build that buffer that allows for bad things to happen, and how that doesn’t say anything about me as a person or means I am unworthy, unlovable, incompetent, etc etc.
I hope you all stay safe out there!! I’m sure I’m not the only one who fell prey to this sort of internet scam.
Be careful!! Scammers may try to pretend to be the IRS, your home’s utility company, or even use threats of litigation or arrest if you don’t follow their instructions to send them money.
I learned this recently – scammers can even pay Google to put themselves at the top of searches. ALWAYS check the URL and if there is a little “Ad” mark next to a link (AVOID THESE!!)
And lastly, here is a physical security key you can install to protect your passwords and accounts.
Hope my experience can help save other people!! Please share this with anyone you’re worried about!!