Consumer Crackdown: Scammers target money transfer apps to trick consumers

Con artists posing as popular app’s customer service swindled customer out of $21,000

(InvestigateTV) - Janeiro Starks has been a faithful Cash App customer for three years. But a recent experience with the quick payment app made him think twice about using it. That’s because the North Carolina resident noticed his $21,000 insurance reimbursement check pending in his account.

“So, I in return, emailed Cash App to ask them what was the deal with the pending deposit,” Starks said.

Cash App told him they would investigate and get back with him.

In the meantime, Starks decided to Google Cash App support, and he found search results. He said his search took him directly to a site that had a Cash App logo and phone number.

Starks called the phone number and said he spoke with someone claiming to be a Cash App rep who asked him to verify his account and Pin. He did and that’s when Starks realized he was scammed.

The number wasn’t really for Cash App.

“I begged and pleaded with the scammers like back and forth,” Starks said.

Right after that phone call, his money disappeared, according to Starks. To make things worse, he said the insurance company wouldn’t reissue a check.

“I’m angry. I’m upset. But what can you do?” Starks said.

Starks reported the incident to law enforcement and other government agencies. He said Cash App also escalated his case.

“Why did I put myself in this position? … I think I’m definitely smarter than that,” Starks said.

When InvestigateTV followed up with Cash App about Starks’ case, a representative said they couldn’t discuss his account due to privacy laws but would contact him. While Starks didn’t get his money back from the scammers, after we started asking questions, Starks was fully refunded.

According to Cash App, employees are often impersonated by scammers circulating fake phone numbers online. They say the only number consumers should ever call to reach Cash App is 1-800-969-1940.

Cash App will never ask anyone to send a payment, make a purchase or complete a “test” transaction of any kind. “Scammers are always looking for new ways to get paid,” said John Breyault, National Consumers League..

Breyault said their organization is working to get rules passed that would make peer-to-peer payment apps more secure. But you can avoid becoming a victim by following these tips:

· ONLY SEND MONEY TO PEOPLE YOU KNOW AND TRUST.

· DON’T SHARE SENSITIVE INFORMATION.

· ONLY KEEP AS MUCH MONEY IN YOUR ACCOUNT AS NEEDED.

“Once the money is gone, it’s just like handing cash to somebody. There’s no way to really get it back from the scammer,” Breyault said.

If you are a victim of a Cash App scam or any other type of fraud, file a complaint at Fraud.org or with the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Sandra Jones

Sandra Jones

Sandra is an Investigative reporter with Gray Television’s National Investigative Team.