In order to earn miles & points, many people “manufacture spend”. That is, people find ways to increase credit card spend (to get rewards) while getting their money back. There are many techniques for doing this, and PayPal is a component of some of them. Unfortunately, while these techniques are perfectly legal, they are often also used for money laundering and other illegal activities. As a result, PayPal frequently freezes accounts of those who manufacture spend because they appear to be doing something illegal.
In response to a recent post about PayPal freezing accounts, an anonymous PayPal employee stepped forward and offered to answer our questions. In this post, I’ve summarized answers to two such questions. Many more questions will be answered in future posts.
Question (part A): Do you know of any safe way to use PayPal to manufacture spend?
The only way to use the PayPal My Cash card safely is to use loaded funds to make purchases rather than finding ways to withdraw the money. Since eBay often has gift cards available at a discount, buying gift cards is a good way to spend your PayPal funds. Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Gyft, and many other merchants accept PayPal as well.
If you have the PayPal Debit Card, use it to make purchases rather than to get cash back.
Question (part B): Is there a pattern of use that will avoid shutdown?
Most account reviews are initiated by customer service agents. Agents are not trained to look for any specific behavior, so pretty much anything can lead to a review. Reviewers then look for the following warning signs that indicate the possibility of money laundering or other illicit activities:
- Are funds being moved to another account before being withdrawn?
- How often are funds loaded and unloaded?
- Are prepaid bank accounts or credit cards being used?
- Are funds added multiple times a day?
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules. Some account auditors are suspicious of any use of the PayPal My Cash card.
Here’s a tip that may help: If you receive a warning email from PayPal, call and ask to be connected to the escalations team. Explain what you were doing. If you explain that you were trying to earn points and miles, it is less likely that your account will be limited. Even if your account has already been limited, it’s worth trying to contact the escalations team.
Frequent Miler’s view
As I’ve stated before (see: “Beware buying PayPal My Cash cards,”) I’d recommend simply staying away from PayPal with respect to manufacturing spend. Using PayPal funds to buy things, as Anonymous suggests, isn’t really a form of manufactured spending since you could have always used your credit card directly for those same purchases. That said, there may be opportunities to increase credit card rewards by using a card that gets a drugstore category bonus, for example, to buy My Cash Cards at a drugstore, and then use your PayPal funds for everyday spend.
If you insist on continuing to manufacture spend with My Cash cards (against my advice), I’d recommend:
- Go slow:
- Don’t buy more than 1 per day.
- Don’t load more than 1 per day to your account.
- Don’t withdraw funds right away.
- Mix in regular use: Use PayPal funds to buy things rather than just for moving money around.
- Do not link prepaid cards to your PayPal account
- Do not withdraw funds from PayPal to a prepaid account.
- Don’t move funds from one account to another before withdrawing those funds.
Much more to come
Anonymous (AKA MSnowden) has many more answers for us. As I receive the answers (based on questions asked by me, and by readers in response to the original post), I’ll do my best to summarize those answers and alter phrases to protect Anonymous’ identity. Stay tuned.
If you have other questions for Anonymous/MSnowden, please head over to the original post and add your question to the comments section (if no one has already asked the question). Here’s the original post: Anonymous PayPal employee to answer manufactured spend questions.
[…] PayPal employee answers: Safe way to manufacture spend? – Answers to your questions about PayPal and manufactured spend from an anonymous employee. […]
So, in other words, do the same as you are already doing to avoid having your GoBank card shut down…
I don’t know why Paypal even sells the MyCash cards. Seems the second you use one, your account is flagged for eventual shutdown.
PayPal doens’t sell it. InComm does.
So far this information is nothing of value.
wow- a lot of hype for a worthless ‘insider’. captain obvious apparently works at paypal. EXCEPT… contrary to his obvious ‘insider info’, you will get shut down JUST FOR LOADING. i controlled 4 accounts (different ip addresses, btw). ALL were shut down loading plus very small purchases- no unloading. i have capital, so tying up 10k per acct is no big deal. so, i wanted to see if they’d tolerate just loading. at first, seemed so, so i did the other 3. then 1 by one the hammer came down.
BOTTOM LINE: if you’re still alive with paypal, then go buy a lottery ticket- it’s a fluke. 1 of the accounts they refused to budge on the 6 month $ prison sentence. i’m too busy to deal with it, so just waited out the sentence.
i am a libertarian, but there needs to be govt regulations to keep paypal, blackhawk and the like from thinking they have any legal right to hold money hostage with no proof of wrongdoing.
much like Dan Marino, all these people should die of gonorrhea and rot in hell.
Abby , I take it that you don’t really like them ?
Yeah, I think next time she should tell us what she really thinks of PayPal and Marino.
lol, it’s lucky it’s not the civil forfeiture. You tried to take an advantage of the PP by manipulating 4x accounts…and “you” (your post is unclear of if you were using SO’s accounts) are allowed to have 2x accounts.
Earning points/miles/cashbacks thru CCs also need to be regulated as well as the shopping portals, so the MS is regulated. This is way, it is fair to the system.
MrWho used to work for Comcast before he started at Paypal .
Glade to get some input from insider.
But I did everything as insider said and I still got shutdown. The only way to prevent shut down is to hold your money in the account for considerable long period of time before withdrawal. Also withdrawal has to be in small amount.
I could get my fund released earlier by reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your source is a complete and total nube…….no insult intended……..and what I have learned is that the company is simply a bunch of fascists from top to bottom……..And the bottom line is I don’t want to do business with fascists so I don’t do business with either PayPal or eBay…………..
Are you saying you NEVER buy or sell anything on Ebay?
you say that as if it would be difficult. i buy from amazon only and NEVER use ebay or paypal.
Not much to glean from this ‘leak’ other than this is primarily a product for the unbanked (but somehow computer-connected) and not a product for moving money in circles
“Some account auditors are suspicious of any use of the PayPal My Cash card.”
This is the key bit and deserved to be highlighted. I gave up on Paypal a while ago because it was such a PIA to load the card using MyCash cards and use the funds. I was getting denied left and right at stores for legitimate purchases(I was trying to build up a history of legitimate use first). I complained to Paypal after having to call for the nth time about a denied purchase and was basically told they don’t like people loading with mycash cards and then quickly spending it. So basically its not your cash its their cash. I’m sure there are some people who have had luck with Paypal but for me it was a waste of time. I’ll wait and see the answers to the other questions but I do not see much to get excited about.
The irony is the banks have it both ways since stuff that interferes with typical travel hacking does almost nothing to impede major-crime money laundering. The law of inverse economy of scale, really, by making it too troublesome to baptize into purity somewhere north of $100 billion US a year in drug money alone. The folks who need to do that aren’t stupid, so they probably aren’t farting around with thousands of separate debit cards waiting in line for unreliable machines at Walmart. They need mass liquidation. Low-hanging fruit is different when you’re standing on a pile of billions of dollars.
PP is not a bank. Apples to Oranges?
I t’s beginning to sound like Paypal should just be avoided in general . Are they the financial division of comcast ?
Interested in thoughts on using loading MyCash and using paypal debit card to unload via Serve or money orders where a named card is necessary.
@mark Using it to load serve this way will get u shut down. not sure about money order
There are countless reports of getting shutdown for buying MOs, loading Serve & BillPay on FT or whatever forums especially for large transaction amounts and repeated transaction amounts.
Does using paypal debit card at Walmart to bill pay credit card bill account as a “spend”?
No, it doesn’t. If you use a PP account this way treats the PP as nothing more than a vehicle for moving money around.