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Gephardt: New Venmo scam can drain your bank account

By Matt Gephardt, KSL TV | Posted - Dec. 22, 2020 at 11:04 a.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY – Many people use apps like Zelle or Venmo because they make it really convenient to share money between friends and family – and scammers know it.

They're targeting people who use the apps and, in some cases, stealing their money.

It happened to a Taylorsville man who was actively taking steps to prevent fraud. So how did he end up bamboozled out of more than $1,000?

Cameron Howell is always suspicious about calls from numbers he doesn't know. So when he got a call from Venmo Support saying something fishy was going on with his account, he was suspicious from the get-go.

"I looked up on my phone while I was on the phone call," he said. "It was Venmo Support's phone number that they called me."

The caller told Howell someone was trying to hack his account, and she was going to stop it.

He said she read him his password.

"Which I thought was weird," Howell said. "She already knew my password."

She then told him she was sending a code to his phone to verify his identity.

"When I got the verification text, she asked if I got it. I said, 'Yes,'" Howell said. "And then I looked at my Venmo and it was already, instantly pulled out."

A total of $1,200 had been taken from his account.

"Somehow, they just got everything," he said. "Hopefully the bank can help me out."

The Venmo scam is making the rounds nationally. Fraudsters contact users and persuade them something is wrong with their account. Looking and sounding legit, they trick people into handing over information or money – or doing something that compromises their account.

From August:

Traditional banks and credit card companies have strong fraud protections. However, cash transfer apps like Venmo do not.

If a user gets hit by fraud, getting that money back can be really difficult.

It's something Howell has learned.

"Me, my friends, we've all deleted (Venmo)," he said. "We've all deleted it. It's just never going to touch Venmo again."

The company has since restored his drained $1,200.

In general, cash transfer app users should know that calls, texts and emails from people claiming to work for the company are almost always scams.

Venmo is only designed for use between people who actually know each other. So if a person gets scammed while buying or selling something online, they're probably not going to get their money back.

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Matt Gephardt

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