Whenever we embrace a new technology, the scammer inevitably find a way to use it for their own purposes. That’s the case with digital wallet apps like Venmo. The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to watch out for a new scam that’s on the rise involving these apps.
Dubbed the “Accidental” Venmo scam, this con is deceptively simple. If you have the Venmo app installed on your phone, you might one day get a message from a stranger. This person says that they “accidentally” sent a sum of money to your account. The message will ask you to send the money back to them.
Since you and I are good, law-abiding citizens, we would probably send the money back. After all, everyone makes mistakes. And these digital wallet apps are so confusing, aren’t they? It’s easy for someone to hit the wrong button.
So you send the money back and think that you’ve done a good deed.
Unfortunately for you, it turns out that the deposit you received was actually stolen. Scammers obtain credit card numbers, either through skimmers, phishing, or buying them on the dark web.
They use those stolen cards to send the Venmo payments. Then they switch the account information so that the returned money goes back to them instead of the original card.
So for example, a scammer steals Justin’s credit card number and “accidentally” sends $100 to Monique. She believes that she has returned the money to Justin, but the scammer has secretly swapped the stolen card information with his own info and pocketed the cash.
The first victim in this example scam is Justin. He can contact his credit company to report the stolen card and get the payment reversed. But that money doesn’t come from nowhere. Instead, it comes from the secondary victim, Monique.
Even though she was just trying to do the right thing, she is now stuck with the bill for $100. Digital wallet apps tend to have a poor record in reimbursing the secondary victims of these scams. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to get that money back from Venmo or other apps.
If someone contacts you about an “accidental” deposit from a digital wallet app, tell them to cancel the transfer. Don’t refund their money, as you are almost certainly being set up by a scammer.
In addition, make sure that you are keeping your digital wallets apps secure by using the highest level of security features available on your device. It might be annoying to use two-factor identification every time you want to check on your PayPal, but it’s better than the alternative.
Finally, considering linking your digital wallet to a credit card instead of a debit card or bank account. You may have better luck getting your money back from a scam with a credit card company.