How to Take Money Directly Out of George Zimmerman's PayPal Account (UPDATED: Nope, Penny Protest Won't Work)

Categories: Crime
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UPDATE, 2:10 p.m.: Just heard back from a PayPal spokesperson who said this wouldn't work, so we tested it out with our own accounts. Post has been updated (heavily) to reflect what we found, which is that PayPal will gladly take your penny but wouldn't charge the recipient.

Maybe ditching his lawyers and setting up his own website wasn't such a good idea.

Word of George Zimmerman's personal website -- and its PayPal "donate" button -- came out late Monday. By Wednesday, quiet rumblings of a "penny protest" were floating about on Tumblr, with instructions on how to rip off Zimmerman's PayPal account.

But unlike so many other social media movements -- "share this status so I can get a heart transplant!" -- this one looks like it checks out. Nope doesn't work.

Every time someone uses a credit card to donate to a PayPal account, PayPal charges the recipient 30 cents, plus 2.9 percent of the total donation. It's how PayPal makes money and pays its credit-card processing fees.

The catch? They'll charge it even if the amount donated is less than the fee.

That's where the "penny" in the "penny protest" comes in -- the idea was that using a credit or debit card to send Zimmerman one cent would force him to pay PayPal 30 cents.

A someone at the PayPal customer service center yesterday said the logic seemed to be sound -- a recipient would be charged the fee even if the net donation would end up costing him money.

I used a credit card to donate a penny to Zimmerman's account, and nothing stopped me. In an email this afternoon, however, a PayPal spokesperson said why that was, and it's the opposite of what customer service told me:
When using PayPal's personal fundraising tools, a customer's balance wouldn't become negative based on a single transaction.  In the case where a donation is 10 cents, for example, then PayPal would collect that 10 cents as a fee.  However, no further fees would be collected on that transaction, and the account wouldn't be taken negative."
The official PayPal statement makes a lot more sense. But given the contradiction, we decided to actually test the system and set up a donation button. When someone donated a penny, I got this in an email from PayPal:
paypal-test.JPG
So, as it turns out, that's the real explanation. Tumblr's "Penny Protest" won't work because PayPal, though it will accept your copper Lincolnface, will then charge Zimmerman one penny to process it.



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33 comments
KingKandyKush
KingKandyKush

He got $200,000 in 2 weeks! Hahahahahahaha.

So much for your protest.

Hey Rich, Zimmerman is rich!

It must piss you off that in two weeks he prob made more than you do in 4 years working at this rag.

Andrew
Andrew

$204,000 chump! LOL!!!

44
44

It's the negro way... Try to find a way to rip someone off. Epic fail as a race...

JohnnyMack
JohnnyMack

YaawwwNNNNN!!, what a waste of bandwidth Abdill, Zimmerman was acting within the law when he was attacked, keep that money flowing for his defense. Yes, I donated along with thousands of concerned citizens.

locakoal
locakoal

its clear the media has made up the minds of many already.

What if they are wrong, like the duke lacrosse team.

there is a 15 year old eye witness that said he say TM on top of GM hitting him and banking his head in to the sidewalk.  - but for some strange reason, the media has only printed his statements a few rare times.

-why would the do that? 

and remember, since both were on the phone, gps tracking should be able to settle who was where prior to the fist fight.

now they are funding the legal dispute, with this 'How to rip off GZ' 

-Media, they can do it to you too.  because they can.

GusGarciaRoberts
GusGarciaRoberts

Hey Rich,

Just sent a penny to YOUR paypal account. Payback's a bitch huh?

FQS9000
FQS9000

Lynchings are such fun.  Ya get together with yur buds and find that y'all agree that the dirty sumbitch needs to get dead.  Why wait for courts, juries an' all that shit.  So you and yur buds goes to his house, kicks in da door, drag 'em out and decorate a tree with him.  Take photos for a momento.  Barak and the New Afro-American Painters are all good wit it.

Missvanisa
Missvanisa

what is wrong with you? he needs a defense just like any one else.

KennyPowersII
KennyPowersII

It could be a veiled attempt to rob an account. Call it research if you want, but it comes across as unethical.  Remember "Office Space"? No one was supposed to get hurt.

Fat Hand
Fat Hand

It says the balance wouldn't become negative, but what if there was already $100 in the account? The new info you included doesn't appear to answer whether it would go down to $99.71 or whatever. The customer's balance would still be positive.

MMEee3
MMEee3

a new low in ethics....

whats next how to rip of the Sun Sentinel ?   -Oh Wait!

M. Simon
M. Simon

I believe he already has an asshole life. No further embellishment required.

Chaz Stevens, Genius
Chaz Stevens, Genius

>> who was where prior to the fist fight?

I think it's more important where was the 9MM in all of this...

Rich Abdill
Rich Abdill

Good question. We tested it out -- the net donation for any given transaction will never go negative, even if there's money in the account that could conceivably be taken as a fee.

Rich Abdill
Rich Abdill

I'm honestly not sure how this is unethical -- I'm checking into a potential hole in the PayPal donation system that's already being exploited by other people. This wasn't my discovery, I promise.

Rich Abdill
Rich Abdill

If I had just gone around looking for ways to rip off Zimmerman, yeah, I think that would have been lousy of me. But I'm just looking to a rumor that's being circulated online -- I didn't start it, but I was hoping to be able to settle the question of whether it was true. Is that so bad?

CSMcDonald
CSMcDonald

Possibly you could have verified that the reported way to abuse this seems to work without actually telling people how to do it.   I know that the information is readily available on countless other websites, but you could have written this and confirmed that the method seems to work without revealing the specific detail on how to do it.

Just sayin'.

Christopher Neal
Christopher Neal

Just seems like a biased article, Rich, and I usually love your writing. I have actually loved everything I have read from you until this article. I guess my issue is it should be innocent until proven guilty. Zimmie could very well prove to be an innocent guy who was protecting himself.

Googoo
Googoo

Yeah, it is...your agenda is showing.

Christopher Neal
Christopher Neal

I see it as you are taking sides on an unresolved issue. If Zimmerman is found innocent, such lame-ass media attacks will only make journalists like you look like you jumped the gun, which you did. But let's keep spinnin' the race war shit though, because O'blamer's re-election depends on such distractions as these.

Chaz Stevens, Genius
Chaz Stevens, Genius

Rich;

How is this unprofessional?

Like you, I want to see Zimmerman have the best legal counsel monehy can buy.  So, again like you, I contributed 50 cents to the fund.

50 cents.  One penny at a time.

buttsex
buttsex

 Withholding information doesn't sound like journalism to me. J-school professors agree. Get a clue Christopher Neal and CSMcDonald.

Rich Abdill
Rich Abdill

@cf1b5aa2252eb791deca3be4813718a1:disqus , I didn't "shoot first" -- called PayPal and asked, very specifically, if the fee structure allowed for "negative" donations. I was told it definitely did, and that's what I wrote. The next day, someone else from PayPal said the opposite thing. I wish it hadn't happened that way, but how is that not checking my facts?

Googoo
Googoo

Rich Abdill, you're blaming this on "bum info from PayPal"...? I guess that means you're telling the rest of us you "shot first, asked questions later"...Sounds just like what you're accusing Zimmerman of doing...Hmmm

Not very thorough investigative journalism...is fact checking optional?

And I agree with others here...not very professional nor unbiased to put out an article about how to supposedly rip someone else off.

Chaz Stevens, Genius
Chaz Stevens, Genius

More fucking liberal biased reporting...

Obviously Rich, you have it out for rich white guys (PayPal) and gun loving god fearing men (Zimmerman).

Why don't you and your hoodie Socialism loving friends move to another country?

Say like Sweden.  At least there they have affordable health care for all.

Rich Abdill
Rich Abdill

I get what you mean, and I appreciate the compliment. Maybe it will make you feel better that it turned out to be based on bum info from PayPal?

Chaz Stevens, Genius
Chaz Stevens, Genius

>> CS, you lost my respected

Well being that you've read my stuff for years and never donated to any of my charities, I never had any respect for you to begin with.

So we're even.

That being said, keep reading.  Without your approval, my life isn't worth living.

Hearear
Hearear

 and if it turns out you're wrong?

remember Richard Jewell?  how about the Duke Lacrosse team?

Media... is a for profit business...   and loves this story since its ratings gold.

-CS, you lost my respect.

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