Beware: Scammers sending fake invoices to steal your money

Scammers are stealing people's money by sending them fake invoices.
Updated: Mar. 6, 2023 at 6:00 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — It shouldn’t be surprising, but scammers have come up with yet another way to steal your money. They’re sending out fake invoices in hopes that you’re so busy you’ll go ahead and pay them. And people are falling for it all the time. It usually comes as an email saying you’ve got an invoice. But instead of a legitimate receipt, it’s a bad actor looking to steal your personal info by posing as a representative from a payment app — like PayPal.

But when you follow that link in the email, it doesn’t take you to the company’s customer support. “It goes to an imposter who is very happy to talk with you and will be very convincing in trying to obtain personal and financial information,” said Julianne Ohlander, a senior data analyst with Been Verified. The company recently studied scam complaints by their users and noticed a spike in imposter scams tied to payment apps.

The IRS says scammers trick people in many ways. Sometimes it comes in the form of a text with bogus links claiming to be from the IRS or other tax services.

“In most cases, these are very safe to use,” Ohlander said. “However, people falsely assume that these apps act as banks, and they are not banks and they don’t follow the same sort of regulations and have the same sort of fraud protections for consumers.”

Josh Planos is with the Better Business Bureau and says scammers will personalize the attack by studying their potential victims before the first email. “We’ve received reports from business owners who got fake invoices for office supplies, domain hosting services and web services,” he said. “And, all too often the scammer does do a little bit of research though typically, that’s what makes them effective.”

Consumer experts say to pay close attention to where the invoice is coming from — like the email address. “And usually you’ll know the tale-tell signs is you look at an email address and it doesn’t quite match up to the company,” Ohlander said.

Also, check the invoice for misspellings. That’s usually an indicator the person sending it is likely a scammer. “Really, one of the best things to do is to just take pause any time you might receive something that you might think is just a little off,” Ohlander said.

Another tip is if you receive a sketchy invoice, log directly into your bank account to see if the transaction is really there. Don’t use the link in the suspicious email. On Your Side reached out to PayPal about this scam and they told us in a statement they’re aware of this phishing scam. They encourage customers to always be vigilant online and to contact customer service directly if they suspect they’re a target.