Scammers 'accidentally' sending money, experts say don't send it back

BBB: It's a scam and the money you send is really yours
Scammers "accidentally" sending you money on Venmo, don't fall for it
Posted at 5:00 AM, Oct 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-11 09:58:19-04

Back in July News5 told you about the rising number of complaints surrounding digital payment apps that allow you to pay for things with a touch of a button on your phone. Now, the Better Business Bureau is issuing an alert about a scam consumer protection experts are hearing about almost every day.

If you get an alert, email, or text about an "accidental" deposit into your Venmo or Zelle account, the experts say to watch out because it's likely a scammer and this is no accident.

"I'm not exactly sure how he could've found me which is a little nerve-wracking," Shelbi Felbinger, who had a stranger offer her $2,000 over her app, said.

The Better Business Bureau recently sent out an alert about messaging like this on cash apps, saying people are reporting messages from strangers who send money to their Venmo or Zelle account and then they ask you to send it back, claiming it was a mistake. The experts also say the scammers are either sending these messages randomly or they manage to find people through social media.

The money they claim they accidentally sent is likely from a stolen credit card. When you return the money you are really just sending your own because the money they sent disappears since it came from an invalid credit card that the original holder has now canceled.

"Many people think the right thing to do is to quickly send it back. Get it out of their accounts. Don't touch it. Whereas really the right thing to do is truly not to touch it. Leave it there," Adah Rodriguez of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado said.

It's important to remember when you're using these money transfer apps, once you send that cash it's gone forever. There's no getting it back and that's why scammers are always lurking. "As soon as you send that money back you're sending it from your account," Rodriguez- explained.

These money transfer apps are convenient and useful, so if you use one here are some steps security experts say you should take right now.

Security experts for the major payment apps are providing these warnings:

- You should only send money to people you know and trust

- Watch out and question any unexpected requests

- Set your privacy settings to the most private (which isn't the default)

- Double-check usernames before sending any money

"So many entities are now using cash apps. It is more than just sending your friends $20 for pizza last night," Rodriguez said. "People are using these cash apps instead of cash in so many situations."