Westmoreland County woman warning others after falling victim to scammer pretending to be PayPal

PITTSBURGH — “I was devastated. I said to the bank, ‘I trusted you with my money, and this is what I get,’” said Marie Borkowski.

Borkowski says this all started after she got an email from what she thought was PayPal. The email stated there was a problem with her account and she needs to give them a call right away.

“He says, ‘Well, somebody got in there.’ He starts reading off the amounts — $499.30, and he was going on and on. He tells me, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll go in and take care of everything,’” said Borkowski.

Borkowski tells Channel 11 they continued to talk and the scammer sent more emails that claimed the transactions were canceled.

The next day, she says she checked her account and noticed several Zelle payments sent to someone she doesn’t know.

She tells us almost $3,000 was missing from her account.

Borkowski says she filed a police report, closed the account, changed her passwords and called PNC Bank.

“Somebody calls me from PNC and says, ‘Sorry, we can’t give you any of that money back because you gave this person your PIN number.’ I said, ‘I gave nobody my PIN number.’” Borkowski recounted. She claims the bank then replied, “Well, that’s just the way it is.”

Borkowski and her family reached out to Channel 11 for help.

I emailed PNC Bank officials last week, and two days later...

“I got my money back thanks to you,” Borkowski said, adding that “nobody was willing to help” her at PNC Bank.

We also reached out to PayPal and Zelle.

Here are tips that Zelle recommends in situations like these:*       Watch out for spoofed texts or caller ID used in social engineering scams. If you receive a text or call from someone claiming to be a representative from a business, bank, power company or other service provider, make sure to independently verify they are legitimate. Be on the lookout for scammers calling and pressuring you to send money to yourself.*       Only use Zelle to send money to people you know and trust. Never send money to strangers or anyone urging you to send money right away. Zelle provides in-app notifications in real time before a user can send funds and is designed to encourage users to carefully consider and confirm whether they know and trust the person to whom they are sending money.*       Don’t share personal details online. Avoid sharing your location, home address, phone number and other personal information across social media. Also, don’t accept friend/connection requests from people you don’t know, and don’t use P2P payments to transact.*       Sign up for account alerts with your bank. Sign up for text or email alerts your bank offers. Most banks and credit unions warn of suspicious activity on your account. You can also be alerted when someone sends a Zelle payment. If you suspect unauthorized activity, be sure to immediately contact your bank.If you use any of the above, please cite Early Warning Services, the network operator of Zelle.

PayPal issued the following statement:

Background information:

  • We’ve always made preventing bad actors from using our platform a top company priority. We take every instance of potential fraud very seriously and have a number of processes in place to protect our customers, helping to proactively limit potential fraudulent activity and mitigate any customer impact.
  • We have a zero-tolerance policy on our platform for fraudulent activity, and our teams are working tirelessly to protect customers and shut down anyone that is attempting to defraud well-intentioned individuals or who are found to violate our policies.
  • We encourage customers who suspect they are the target of a scam or have had an unauthorized transaction to contact Customer Service directly. We’re also proud to offer our customers peace of mind through PayPal and Venmo purchase protections on eligible purchases, in addition to our industry leading 24/7 fraud monitoring and protection.
  • Phishing: Phishing attempts are common and can take on many forms. We continue to take all the necessary steps to protect our customers. Nonetheless, we always encourage users to remain mindful when being asked to participate in a transaction.
  • We also encourage customers to be vigilant of who messages are from (via text, email, phone, or social media) to protect themselves when sharing information, clicking links, and opening attachments. For example:
    • We will never ask customers for certain personal information or multi-factor authentication codes by phone, email, or text message.
  • Scams: Whenever someone suspects they are the target of a potential scam, or they have had an unauthorized or unsatisfactory transaction, we always recommend that they contact PayPal Customer Support directly. Our dedicated support teams are always available to help look into a matter and provide available options.
  • In addition, customers can contact spoof@paypal.com with any potential scams and our dedicated security team will review the information and take action as needed.
  • If you notice any unauthorized activity on your Xoom account, please email us immediately at reportfraud@xoom.com.
  • Customers may also reach out to law enforcement to report any scams, and we can assist in the investigation if asked.

Additional resources and helpful information for PayPal and Venmo customers:

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