TL;DR PayPal Germany is most likely in
deepsome trouble. Story still evolving.
This morning I got this email in my Gmail account:
For those not versed in the German language, the mail states in no uncertain terms (no disclaimers even) that I have won 500 Euros in cash from PayPal and that the money should already be on my account when I log in.
Oh, I can haz 500 Euro from PayPal just like that?!! ZOMG!?11! Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
As I’m currently running an educational campaign on IndieGoGo, I already had the PayPal account window open in my browser and lo’ behold – there was no 500 Euro there from PayPal. Surprise, surprise.
I immediately tried to call the German PayPal customer service, but it could not be reached. I tweeted @paypal and left a comment on their Facebook page. Now over four hours later, I have yet to hear anything from them.
Google did not mark it as suspicious, but obviously I did check it for the tell-tale signs that it would be a scam or a phishing attempt. I have yet to be fooled or tricked. It looked pretty legit and I now have it from trusted sources that Kaspersky Labs has verified that it is indeed a legit email.
At this time I suspect human error or a very high-level security breach. In fact, I’d bet on the former. Either way, I think it is safe to assume that someone lost their job today somewhere at PayPal.
German law basically dictates that if you tell someone they won a prize, you have to give them that prize, no ifs or buts:
§ 661a Gewinnzusagen
Ein Unternehmer, der Gewinnzusagen oder vergleichbare Mitteilungen an Verbraucher sendet und durch die Gestaltung dieser Zusendungen den Eindruck erweckt, dass der Verbraucher einen Preis gewonnen hat, hat dem Verbraucher diesen Preis zu leisten.
Either way, I think it is safe to assume that this is most likely a clusterfuck for PayPal Europe in the making. Bring popcorn.
— Vidar Andersen (@blacktar) June 7, 2013