You may have seen people posting screenshots of their PayPal balances with incredible amounts reflected. While the screenshots are really of the PayPal page, the amount has been faked! These balances are used for scams, but anyone can make them.
Why Fake a PayPal Balance?
Faking a PayPal balance isn’t a scam by itself, but it can serve as the basis for various scams. One of the most benign (but still unsavory) ones is to post the balance as proof that the poster has money to give away in a competition. A common competition is to give away money to a random person who follows an account or reposts a certain post. Scammers can then award the “prize” to another account that they control and never have to prove that any money has changed hands. The end result is that they build a following using fraud.
Another scam has the potential to actually steal money from unsuspecting users. Fake PayPal balances can be used to “prove” that someone has made a fortune from cryptocurrency scams, or other dubious practices like binary trading. The exact scheme doesn’t matter, but the fake balance is useful for convincing users that someone is getting rich and it isn’t them.
You may also see social media accounts offering to sell “hacked” PayPal accounts for some fraction of the supposed balance. This is a type of scam that relies on the victim’s own greed, as many scams do.
There are many ways a fake PayPal can be abused, but the bottom line is that whenever a screenshot of a PayPal balance is used as a way to convince you to do anything, you shouldn’t believe it.
How to Fake a PayPal Balance Screenshot
To prove how easy it is to fake a PayPal balance, we’re going to show you exactly how it’s done. We’ll be using Google Chrome on a desktop, although other browsers have similar capabilities.
First, open PayPal and sign in to your account. As you can see, our balance is zero, which is depressing, so let’s do something about it.
Click on the three vertical dots at the top right of the Chrome window, then choose “More Tools” and finally “Developer Tools”. You can also use Ctrl+Shift+i on Windows, or Command+Shift+C on macOS.
You’ll see this panel pop up on the side of the screen. This is the element inspector, which lets you highlight any part of a website and see the code used to display it. Alternatively, you can hover over the code and see which part of the page it relates to.
If you hover over your balance, you’ll see this section highlighted, so you know that’s the snippet of code responsible for the balance.
Double-click the balance value (which is zero in this case) and then enter whatever you like. A million dollars? Sure, why not?
Now all you have to do is take a screenshot of your scam or if you want to share your screen in a video chat, make sure to close the element inspector first.
Congratulations, you can now pretend to have a Scrooge McDuck-sized pile of money. You’re also better armed with knowledge in the fight to stay protected online from fraudsters and other bad actors.
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