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I have a negative balance on PayPal because I sold an item and was paid with a hacked account.

Virginia Beach, VA |

I sold a item on Ebay and used Paypal to collect the payment. The buyer paid me quickly on paypal and I sent him the computer. I then found out the buyer hacked into someone else's account to pay me. Paypal reverse the transaction and now I am out $800 and my computer. The problem is that paypal's investigation process took 1 hour and they say that its my fault for not taking the necessary precautions, which I understand. I am refusing to pay my negative balance- is this a worthy fight or should I just lay down and take it?

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Attorney answers 2


Unless PayPal violated its agreement with you, I see no claim. PayPal is not a credit card, so those protections do not exist. Therefore, you are left with contractual claims. Nevertheless, I would ask what precautions you could have taken. If nothing else, it would help you avoid this situation in the future.

[This communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice, and this communication does not create an attorney-client relationship.]

Mitchell P. Goldstein
Richmond, VA 23230
804-673-4358 Office Email


This is a complicated situation, and additional information is required for a proper answer. You definitely need to consult with an attorney.

First, sorry to say it, but you are probably going to lose this one. Before you decide to pursue this matter further try to decide if you have enough information to go forward, and who to go forward against.

Theories of Liability:

Did Ebay misrepresent the quality of the buyer? Did your buyer have a high feedback score? Was the Ebay account used to purchase the computer actually the buyer? Did the buyer click through from Ebay to Paypal, to pay you?

If any of these questions apply, you may have an avenue to pursue against Ebay. However, Ebay has several warnings with regards to collecting funds and shipping items. An examination of the Ebay user agreement is required to determine any liability.


Paypal has an obligation to ensure that the funds it withdraws from the buyer's account actually is from the buyer's account. How long was it from when Paypal credited your account, to when they notified you that the funds were misappropriated? If this time is unreasonable, then you may have a claim against PayPal for not only the negative balance, but the value of your computer. Now if you saw the paypal credit hit your account, and then immediately ran out and mailed your computer to the buyer, you are probably out of luck. Unreasonable would be something more like the account was credited, and three days later they said the funds were stolen and they debited your account.

Again like Ebay, Paypal has several policies in place to protect you and them, and an examination of the Paypal agreement is required to determine liability.

Unfortunately there are alot of scammers out there, and it appears you have fallen victim to one.

Good Luck and if you need further information, feel free to contact me.
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