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  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , retirees, , venmo   

    Retirees lose savings to new Venmo scam 

    Retirees lose savings to new Venmo scam

    By Greg Collier

    While Venmo is no stranger to scams on their platform, this may be one of the most heinous Venmo scams we’ve heard of. What makes this one worse than most is that the people being scammed didn’t even use Venmo.

    A retired couple from Florida who are said to be in ill health lost their life savings of close to $20,000 to a Venmo scammer. While it’s not required to use Venmo, some Venmo users connect a bank account to their Venmo account. Somehow, the scammer got a hold of the couple’s banking information and linked it to a Venmo account that the couple was unaware of.

    The scammer started slowly, at first only transferring small amounts under a dollar out of the couple’s account. Before too long, the scammer was transferring $1500 a week until the bank account was drained of $19,500. The couple didn’t notice until their rent check bounced. When they called their bank to try and resolve the matter, the bank reportedly told the couple to call Venmo. Venmo in turn is said to have told the couple to call the bank. The couple didn’t even know what Venmo was prior to this. Now, the couple is facing health and housing issues while the bank, Venmo, and police investigate the situation.

    What really is concerning is how was the scammer able to obtain the couple’s bank account information. One way that has been increasingly popular with scammers recently is stealing outgoing mail from people’s mailboxes. This is done in order to either obtain a check, so the scammers can rewrite the check. The mail and checks can also be used to obtain banking information as well. We’re not saying that this exactly what happened to this unfortunate couple, but it’s a good possibility.

    In this day and age, it’s always a good idea to make regular checks of your bank accounts for fraudulent activity. For most people, this can be done through mobile apps, where you can check your account at any time. However, for seniors who may still use older methods like waiting for their bank statement in the mail, there are other options. They can always call the customer service department of their bank to get a rundown of their account activity over the phone. They can also go to their bank’s local branch to obtain a print out of their account’s activity that they can review at home.

    If you have older relatives or friends who may not be tech-savvy, you may want to suggest that they keep a close eye on their bank accounts.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , lending scam, , , , , , , venmo   

    Scam Round Up: Don’t let strangers use your phone and more 

    Scam Round Up: Don't let strangers use your phone and more

    By Greg Collier

    We’re closing out the week again with another trio of scams that have popped up around the country.

    ***

    Our first scam comes to us from Charlotte, North Carolina. Residents there have been complaining about a bold scam that takes advantage of your kindness. The scam involves people coming up to you asking to use your phone. The scammers will have some kind of story like hey’re car broke down and can they use your phone to call someone. Once they have your phone, they’ll open up whatever payment app you have on your phone and send all your money to the scammers account. In Charlotte, residents there have said that Venmo was specifically targeted, but this scam could be used on any payment app. The best way to prevent this from happening, outside of letting no one use your phone, is to enable the security features on your accounts. Usually, you can secure your accounts with a PIN or have them require your fingerprint or facial recognition.

    ***

    Speaking of North Carolina, the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina is warning consumers about phony lenders who are really looking to pull off an old scam. In this scam, the lender promise an easy loan, and will deposit a check in your bank account. The scammers will then demand you to buy loan insurance before the check even clears. However, the check never clears as it’s a fake, leaving the victim responsible for the check’s amount to their bank. These phony lenders usually promise you won’t have to undergo a credit check. This should be your red flag, as all legitimate lenders will have you undergo a credit check. Also, no one seeking a loan should respond to unsolicited offers they may receive through text or email.

    ***

    Lastly, the Better Business Bureau of Tulsa is warning their residents about a text messaging scam that threatens to lock their phone. Consumers there have been getting texts that appear to come from their cell phone providers telling them that their phone will be locked if they don’t make a payment. The text also contains a link that should never be clicked on. The link will either inject malware into your phone or it will ask you for your financial information. If you receive one of these texts or one like it, call the customer service number that appears on your bill or on the provider’s website.

    ***

    Please keep in mind that scams like this aren’t confined to the area where they are being reported on in the news. They could just as easily be happening in your area.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , twitter bots, twitter scam, venmo   

    Twitter bots are scamming PayPal and Venmo users 

    Twitter bots are scamming PayPal and Venmo users

    By Greg Collier

    We didn’t intend to write three stories in a row about payment app scams, yet here we are. Apps like PayPal and Venmo have become so common, it’s almost expected for scammers to try and weasel their way into our electronic wallets. We have documented quite a number of scams that involve not only PayPal and Venmo, but Cash App, Zelle, and other platforms as well. Those scams usually involve some kind of fraudulent transaction, but it seems at least one group of scammers have stepped up their game when it comes to finding new targets.

    Scammers have recently set up bots to look for any mention of the names PayPal or Venmo. For example, if someone were to ask another person on Twitter if they had a PayPal, so they could pay them for an item or support a content creator for example, the bot picks up on that mention. What happens next borders on evil genius territory.

    The bot will then make an almost duplicate Twitter account of the person being asked if they have PayPal. They’ll block the account they’ve cloned, then respond to the person who asked about their PayPal account with a link that goes to the scammers account. So the person who is supposed to be receiving the money doesn’t even see the fake account responding to the person who asked them about their PayPal account. In a normal Twitter conversation, it would go something like this.

    Person 1: Hey, I like your content. Do you have a PayPal?

    Impersonated Account: I sure do. (With attached link to scammer’s PayPal)

    Meanwhile, Person 2 never sees the impersonated account respond, and loses out on a sale or support.

    If you feel the need to discuss someone’s PayPal or Venmo account with them on social media, make sure to do it through private messages and not in a way where everyone can see it. Also, if you’re someone who solicits donations for their work through PayPal, it’s best not to list your PayPal details in your public profile as bots could be targeting you.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , venmo,   

    Did Venmo lead to a kidnapping scam? 

    Did Venmo lead to a kidnapping scam?

    By Greg Collier

    As we have said previously, payment apps like Venmo are a great convenience for consumers. Venmo allows its users to make payments to friends and family or make a purchase without having to carry cash. However, it has a peculiar feature that’s enabled by default, and that’s the user’s public feed. It allows just about anyone to see a user’s Venmo activity, such as whom they paid and how much. The feed can be made private, but many users don’t even know the feed even exists. The feed has been used in a number of Venmo-related scams, but this is the first time we can recall it being used in such a harrowing scam.

    A woman from Georgia received a phone call that came up in her caller ID as coming from her mother. Somehow, the scammers were able to ascertain her mother’s phone number and spoofed it. The scammers claimed they were in her mother’s house and were holding her mother hostage. They demanded $2500 to be paid through Venmo. She only had $500 in her account, and the scammers accepted that. Meanwhile, the woman’s boyfriend was on the phone with the woman’s brother, who was at the mother’s home at the time and verified no kidnapping was taking place. However, the woman had already sent the scammers the money, and Venmo makes it easy to block users once the transfer has been made. It’s believed that the scammers knew she was a Venmo user by guessing random usernames to see if that brings up a public feed. The woman had just used Venmo that day.

    As you may know, this is known as a virtual kidnapping scam, and it has become prevalent over the past few years. If you were to receive a phone call like this, your initial reaction may be to believe what you’re being told. However, kidnappings for money are actually very rare in the United States. What you should do is try to get in contact with the person who has been supposedly kidnapped, either through using a different phone to call them or some other means of communication. You can also ask to speak to the supposed hostage and ask them a question only they would know.

    Scammers often use fear as a tactic to get their victims to give them exorbitant amounts of money. However, if you have the knowledge to thwart them, you’ll have nothing to fear.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: accidental deposit, accidental payment, , deposit scam, , , , venmo,   

    There’s nothing accidental about these payments 

    There's nothing accidental about these payments

    By Greg Collier

    Last week, we posted about a scam that was affecting Venmo users. In that scam, scammers were posing as friends of the Venmo account holder and asking for money. But what do you do if a stranger sends you money that you didn’t ask for and does it through a payment app? The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning about an accidental payment scam that’s been affecting users of payment apps like Zelle, Venmo, Cash App and others.

    In what’s being called the accidental payment or accidental deposit scam, the victim receives a substantial payment from someone they don’t know. That payment is then followed up by a message from the person who sent the money, saying they sent that payment accidentally, and could you please send it back? Whatever you do at this point, do not send the money back like you would a regular payment.

    According to the BBB, the money that was sent to you was done using a stolen credit card. If you send the money back like a regular payment, you’ll be responsible for that money once it’s discovered the credit card is stolen.

    Instead, you should tell the sender to cancel the payment, which can be done on most of the popular payment apps. If they refuse or try to pressure you into sending it back, it’s more than likely a scam. Also, don’t spend the money that you receive from the scammer, or you’ll be held liable for that money.

    While many of the scammers are finding their victims randomly, others are finding them through social media. In order to prevent receiving phony payments like this, it’s best to keep your account names off of social media. While you may think it’s just a quick post between friends, it can be picked up quickly by scam artists.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , venmo   

    Your Venmo friend may not be your friend 

    Your Venmo friend may not be your friend

    By Greg Collier

    Payment and wallet apps like Venmo have been a great convenience for consumers. They can allow you to make payments to friends or make purchases without having to carry cash or a card that could be easily lost. As a modern society, we seem to be more protective of our phones than our methods of payment. However, we also sometimes seem to forego security over convenience, which has led to a number of these apps being used in scams. Venmo is not a stranger to these scams, but a new scam has emerged which may have Venmo looking at one of its features.

    In our opinion, the major drawback to using Venmo is that by default, your purchases and transactions are available on a public feed. That means anyone who knows your Venmo username can see who you’ve paid and where you’ve shopped. Scammers are well aware of this and are now creating Venmo accounts that look exactly like one of your friends’ accounts. The scammers will then contact their targets asking for money, and once that money leaves your Venmo account, it’s almost impossible to retrieve. Why this public feed is considered a feature on Venmo is beyond us.

    There are steps you can take to make your Venmo account more secure. The first thing you should do is make all your transactions private, which you can find the instructions for here. The second thing you can do is verify with your friends if they’re the ones actually asking you for money. That may require an awkward conversation depending on the situation, but that’s better than losing your money. You should only use apps like Venmo with people you know and verified merchants. Anybody else could be a security threat. Enable two-factor authentication to keep opportunists out of your account if they become in possession of your phone. Lastly, if you have the ability to do so, link a credit card to your account, as it will give you more protection than these apps offer on their own.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , phone takeover, , venmo   

    Scammers stopping cell service can steal your money 

    Scammers stopping cell service can steal your money

    By Greg Collier

    We’ve mentioned this before, but it’s still hard to imagine life these days without your smartphone. It’s been one of those necessities that you don’t leave the house without. If you’re anything like us, we’re sure you’re checking for your keys, identification, and phone before you go out the front door. Now, imagine that you’re out running errands or what have you, and all of a sudden, your phone no longer has any service. No calls, no apps, no texts or anything. If this were to happen to you, it would be more of a problem than not being able to contact anyone. It could have disastrous results for your finances too.

    Recently, in Memphis, Tennessee, two alleged scammers were arrested for reportedly stealing close to $500,000 from AT&T customers. The pair would call into AT&T call centers posing as AT&T employees. They would then be able to get access to customer accounts. With the customer account information, they would call AT&T back and switch the customer’s service to another cellular provider. The scammers then had access to the various apps that the customer may have used. The scammers are then said to have taken money out of apps like PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App.

    While this scam is far from new, we’ve never seen it used on such a grand scale before. Even though AT&T was singled out in this post, it has happened to other providers, again, just not on this scale. This scam usually doesn’t target as many individuals as this one has. Unfortunately, the onus on protecting you from this scam is on the cellular providers. On top of this, customer service representatives for some providers are often under-trained and are asked to handle multiple customers at the same time. This can lead to a lot of fraud slipping through the cracks.

    In some instances, you can set up a PIN or password with your provider that will identify yourself in case someone tries to take over your account. Other than that, the only thing we can recommend is getting in touch with your cellular provider as soon as your service goes out.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on February 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , venmo   

    Payment app scam preys on your kindness 

    Payment app scam preys on your kindness

    Most of us have some form of banking or payment app on our phones. Whether they’re through our local bank or one of the many mobile payment services available, a lot of us make payments or transactions through these platforms. But how many of us really have these apps secured on our devices? You may have your phone locked using a PIN or fingerprint check, but what if someone was able to bypass your phone lock?

    A woman in Charlotte, North Carolina recently found out the hard way what happens if you don’t secure your apps. She was working at home when a man knocked on her door and asked if he could use her phone. He claimed he had locked his possessions in his car and needed to text a relative. Being a kind person, she allowed the man to use her phone to get help. After using the phone, the man handed the phone back to the woman. That’s when she noticed the emails from Venmo. In that short amount of time, the man is said to have sent close to $1000 to himself through Venmo. The problem with many of these apps like Venmo is that once payment goes through, the victim of a scam can be blocked by the scammer making retrieval of your money almost impossible.

    If you’re the type of person who tends to be a good Samaritan you should be commended for being willing to help others that you may not even know. There is still a way for you to lend someone your phone without exposing your financial apps. Most financial apps have some form of two-factor authentication available to you. A PIN or biometric scan like a fingerprint or face unlock can be enabled. This means that even if your phone is unlocked for someone to use, your financial apps will still be secure. If they don’t offer this service, you may want to consider using an app that does. While you may think that enacting these measures may make it more inconvenient for you, in a short time you’ll hardly even notice the small amount of extra time it takes you.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , venmo   

    A Cash App scam that could happen on the street 

    A Cash App scam that could happen on the street

    Most scams that happen on payment apps like Cash App happen online. However, we just came across one that happens on the street.

    The report we found about this scam comes out of Nashville, Tennessee but could happen in any city. In Nashville, the city is known for its music scene so there are a number of street musicians looking to get their name out there. There are also a number of scammers looking to take advantage of those interested in the music scene.

    The scammers will pose as a street musician and will approach a victim. The scammer will ask for the victim’s phone so they can pull up their music video on YouTube. Instead, the scammer accesses one of the victim’s payment apps like Cash App, Venmo, or PayPal and sends the victim’s money to themselves before fleeing the scene.

    While this particular approach may be exclusive to Nashville or any other city with a vibrant music scene, this scam could happen anywhere. You could be approached by someone asking to use your phone for an emergency where instead of calling someone they could be draining one of your payment app accounts.

    There are several ways to protect yourself against a scam like this. First off, it’s generally a good idea to never hand your phone over to someone you don’t know. Secondly, most of the leading payment apps have security features that prevent other people from accessing your account on your phone. Known as two-factor authentication, you can have a PIN set up to open the payment app or you could use your phone’s fingerprint reader to access your account. When these features are enabled, it goes a long way in preventing others from accessing your accounts on your phone.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , venmo   

    A new series of scams to look out for 

    A new series of scams to look out for

    Here are some new scams that we’ve found out about that are going on around the country. Please keep in mind that just because they are not currently happening in your area doesn’t mean that they can’t.

    Another victim has been scammed through the freelancer platform Upwork. In Pennsylvania, a woman had accepted an editing position that she had found on Upwork. She was sent a check for $2000 by her ’employer’ in order to buy equipment for her position. She was then instructed to send what wasn’t spent back to her employer through Venmo and gift cards. The $2000 check later turned out to be fraudulent. Upwork has said that you should not communicate with a client outside of the Upwork platform. If you receive a check in the mail and are asked to send a balance back through untraceable means like Venmo or gift cards, it’s almost a guarantee that the job is a scam.

    In Northern California, at least one resident has reported a new scam that had happened to them. They say they received a text message where a cybercriminal claimed that they had total control of the victim’s cell phone including the microphone and camera. The scammer then tried to extort $1500 in cryptocurrency out of the person they texted. The odds are very slim that your phone will be hijacked in this way. That’s also not taking into account that when you pay a purported blackmailer like this, they will continue to try and squeeze as much money out of you as possible. If you receive a text like this you are asked to report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

    Lastly, in Tulsa, Oklahoma man fell for a customer service scam that left him out of $1500. The man was having issues with his Cash App account. He called what he thought was Cash App’s customer service department but was actually a scammer. Before it was all over, the man’s Cash App account had been drained by the scammers. In this day and age of everything being online, not every company has a customer service number you can call. Often scammers take advantage of this by advertising phony customer service numbers. If you need to contact a company for customer service, go directly to that company’s website and look for a link that either says ‘contact us’ or ‘support’. Don’t just do a web search for ‘company x’s customer service number’ as there’s a good chance that number could be fake.

     
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