PayPal payment goes on global odyssey -- 7 On Your Side finds it

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It seems there is no end to the ways the internet connects us all -- even strangers to strangers. (KGO-TV)

It seems there is no end to the ways the internet connects us all -- even strangers to strangers.

A one-letter typographical error sent East Bay resident Gary Tucker's money to the wrong place. Another mistake sent him to the wrong place looking for it. After he assumed he was scammed, 7 On Your Side found out where his money really went.

"I'm flummoxed,'' he said. "That's all I can say, I'm flummoxed!"

It all began when Tucker decided to buy laminate flooring he saw advertised on Craigslist.

"It was the perfect type of flooring. $75 for 500 square feet," he said.

He agreed to pay the seller through PayPal.

"And I put in the email that he gave me, and put send, sent him the money," he said.

However, he typed one wrong letter in the seller's email address.

"I had put in one too many G's,'' he said.

So, the money didn't go to the Craigslist seller. His PayPal receipt said it went to a company called "Cleo's Creations.''

"It said you've just made a payment of $75 to Cleo's Creations."

The PayPal receipt also listed the website for Cleo's Creations, so Tucker clicked on it. The site belongs to a company in England that sells knitted scarves and soft toy animals.

"So I contacted them. Hey, I made a mistake."

He asked Cleo's Creations for a refund. The company never responded. So, Tucker asked PayPal for help.

"We can't enforce the company to give you a refund," he recalls PayPal saying. "All we can do is ask them."

He still didn't hear back so Tucker contacted 7 On Your Side. We investigated, and found something surprising. Turns out that knitting company in England did not get Tucker's money,

"Wow!' Tucker said. "Where did I send it?"

We told him his money actually went into a dormant PayPal account belonging to a guy in Boston.

"Oh...my God,'' Tucker exclaimed.

We contacted the man in Boston and he told us he opened his PayPal account 10 years ago for his little daughter's jewelry-making business. That business was also called "Cleo's Creations," which is why it got mixed up with the company in England.

"Oh, that's amazing,'' Tucker said. "I had no idea."

Turns out the little girl was raising money for an orphanage in China where she had been adopted.

"That's awesome! I can't believe it. Wow that's an incredible story," he said. The man in Boston said he did get email demands from Tucker, asking for that $75. The man said he thought it was part of a phishing scam to get his personal or banking information.

"Oh that's amazing and I thought the same thing about them. They thought the same thing about me. And you guys ironed it. It's amazing you did all that legwork and found out what happened."

The man in Boston, who did not want to be identified, realized Tucker was legitimate and did refund that $75.

Tucker said he thought he'd been angry thinking he'd been scammed out of $75 -- learning the truth softened his heart.

"It's almost like I could send the money to that orphanage,'' Tucker said.

PayPal did not say how it listed the knitting company in England on the account of the little girl in Boston. But, PayPal says, it "does its best" to ensure that all information about buyers and sellers is correct.

Written and produced by Renee Koury

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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