CINCINNATI — As money transfer apps become more and more popular, scammers become more brazen in their attacks.
This time, a woman has lost more than $10,000 and is unsure if she will ever be able to recover it.
Catina Brown received a fraud alert on her phone the other day that said it was from her bank, Chase.
It asked if she was attempting to make a $5,000 money transfer via Zelle.
"It is saying 'did you try to send $5,000?' And I said 'no!'" Brown said.
Moments after she texted back, her phone rang, and a man claiming to be a Chase bank agent said he was going to help.
"He said 'someone is trying to send $5,000 from your account,'" she said.
To stop the fraud, the agent said he just needed her login.
By then, she was in a panic, with visions of her bank account being drained. She needed the money for a small business she is starting, so she complied with his instructions.
"He had me give him the codes," she said.
You might guess what happened next: The $5,000 Brown thought she was locking down was instead transferred out of her account.
She had just become the latest victim of a money transfer scam targeting users of Cash App, Venmo and Zelle across the country, according to the Better Business Bureau.
How much did she end up transferring? Brown said it was almost her entire savings - $13,325 in total.
Scammers see money app customers as easy targets
As money transfer apps become more popular, more people are falling for this scam, the Better Business Bureau said.
The reason: You get an alert on your phone and you want to fix the problem as soon as possible.
WCPO 9 contacted Chase bank to see if there is any way to reverse some of the transfers, though that is often impossible. Using a money app is the same as just handing cash to someone.
A Chase spokeswoman told us "we are still investigating the customer’s claim. This type of scam is unfortunately targeting consumers who bank at multiple financial institutions, including Chase."
"Chase will never contact a customer asking them to send money to anyone to prevent or stop fraud on their account via check, wire transfer or Zelle." (Read full statement below)
These apps do not have the protection of a credit card, debit card, or even personal check, which can be stopped.
While Zelle (unlike Venmo) is partnered with major banks, it doesn't offer much additional protection in cases like this, where the account owner willingly transfers the money.
To protect yourself,the BBB says:
- Never trust a text or call from a bank or money app, even if they alert you to "fraud" in your account.
- Never give anyone your login info. The bank will already have it, and they don't need you to enter your PIN if there is a problem.
- If you are not sure it is your bank or money app contacting you, call them, or in the case of Zelle, Venmo, or Cash App, look up their "contact us" webpage.
- Beware Googling their customer service number: it is easy to reach a fake Zelle, Venmo, or Cash App number,which then puts you on the line with a different group of scammers.
- Consider linking your money app to a credit card, instead of your bank account, for added safety (though you may be hit with a small fee every time you use it).
Brown, who is trying to start her own trucking dispatch company, wonders if her dreams have now gone the way of her savings.
"I'm trying to start a small business, and this is taking me out, basically," she said.
As always, don't waste your money.
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FULL STATEMENT FROM CHASE BANK:
"We are still investigating the customer’s claim. This type of scam is unfortunately targeting consumers who bank at multiple financial institutions, including Chase.
Chase will never contact a customer asking them to send money to anyone to prevent or stop fraud on their account via check, wire transfer or Zelle."
Below is additional information that may be helpful.
Chase Fraud prevention tips and educational materials
- On our website, we provide customer education about fraud [chase.com] and scams [chase.com], phishing attempts by text and how to avoid them, and have additional tips.
- On our website, we also provide additional information about using Zelle [chase.com].
- Remember: We won’t ask for confidential information such as your user name, password, personal identification number (PIN) or other account information in a text message or email. You can find that information on our website here [chase.com].
- What do I do if I get a phone call about my account?
- Never give out personal or financial information such as your checking account, credit card and Social Security numbers over the phone unless you made the call or you know the person or organization you're dealing with.
- We won't ask you for your PIN or password by calling you or by sending you an email. We may ask for this information only when you call us to discuss your account.
- Be careful when you get a phone call from someone who:
- Please contact us right away if you believe you've given out any personal information over the phone. To report a suspicious phone call or potentially fraudulent activity, please follow the instructions on this page.
- Threatens to close or suspend your account if you don't tell them your personal information
- Tells you your account has been attacked and then asks you to tell them your account or personal information
- Requires you to give any personal information, such as your user name, password or account number
- Asks you to confirm, verify or update your account, credit card or billing information
- For example:
- As a reminder to your viewers, Chase will never contact a customer asking them to make a Zelle payment to anyone.
- Make sure you send money to people you know and trust in order to help avoid scams and protect your account.
- We don't protect or cover purchases if you use Zelle to pay for goods or services.