Customers Hit with Holiday E-mail Scam

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Online payment processor said yesterday that a holiday message sent by e-mail to a number of its customers asking them to update their accounts was an attempt by scam artists to obtain passwords and credit card numbers.

A number of PayPal customers complained about an e-mail they received Dec. 17 that directed them to visit a Web site to reenter their account information, the company said. would not say exactly how many customers received the e-mail.

"Season's greetings valued PayPal customer," the message said. "As the New Year approaches and as we all get ready to move a year ahead, PayPal would like to give you a $5 credit to your account! All you have to do to claim your $5 gift from us is to update your information on our secure Pay Pal site by January 1, 2002."

The secure site,, is registered to a fictitious company called PayPal Secure, allegedly located at 1 First Ave, Paypal, SE 123 456, CK. The host of the fake site has taken it offline.

PayPal said only a few customers complained about the bogus e-mail and that no one reported any unauthorized transactions to their accounts.

The company, which acts as a third-party to facilitate online payments, offers a $5 sign-up bonus to new customers. To claim the bonus, new customers must verify their account by having either a credit card or bank account on file with PayPal, must keep a $250 balance in their PayPal account and sign up for the company's Money Market Reserve Fund.

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