The 16 Most Common Venmo Scams In 2023 [Protect Yourself]
In today's world of digital transactions, Venmo is a household name. But as with any popular tech, nefarious actors are always on the prowl to take advantage.
Common Venmo scams have been making the rounds, leaving some users with a sour taste for this form of electronic payment.
While Venmo provides an incredibly convenient way to send and receive money, you must remain vigilant when using the platform.
Scammers continue to devise innovative ways to fool people out of their hard-earned money. So, let's gain some expert knowledge on how to keep your cash safe from these cyber predators!
The 16 Most Common Venmo Scams
Venmo scams are, unfortunately, abundant. Whether you're selling goods online or just lending a buddy lunch money, knowing the types of scams out there can protect your wallet.
They exploit trust and use flattery, fear, or urgency to make you act without thinking. Let's dive right into two of the most prevalent ones wreaking havoc in the digital sphere.
The Money Multiplier Scam
The Money Multiplier scam resembles the modern version of a get-rich-quick scheme. You're promised substantial returns if you send a small upfront payment. Scammers often tempt users with effortless tripling or quadrupling of their initial investment.
The scammer will urge you to send a fixed amount of money, promising it will multiply within a few hours or days due to some "secret investment tactic" they possess.
This quick and easy cash lures dupes many into sending their hard-earned money without due diligence.
Accidentally Sending You Money
One user error-based scam that scammers often masterfully manipulate is the "accidentally sent funds" stunt. This one involves someone sending money to your Venmo account, claiming it was an accident.
They'll message you explaining their mistake and requesting the funds back – professing it was intended for someone else with a similar username as yours. Under normal circumstances, your first reaction may be sympathy followed by hastiness in returning their funds – simple human decency right?
Except here's where things get twisted! Those initial funds were sent from a stolen credit card or a hacked Venmo account. So when you 'rightfully' return them - it’s coming straight out of your pocket while scammers come away looking squeaky clean.
Requesting Money with a Fake Link Scam
This scam is crafty, so you must keep your eyes peeled. In this scenario, the fraudster sends you a phony Venmo link that mirrors the real thing.
Once you click on it, it takes you to a login page cleverly designed to look like Venmo's. But don't be fooled - it's a trap! If you input your username and password, the data goes straight to the scammer.
Before you can blink, they've breached your Venmo account and are off with your money. Safe practice? Always check the URL for authenticity before clicking.
The Donation Scam
Charity, they say, begins at home. Not when it's a guise for a scam! In this scam, scammers appeal to your noble instincts by sending sob stories or inviting donations for dubious causes.
Voluntarily, out of empathy, you donate via their suggested Venmo handle, whose proceeds, unfortunately, end up in these scammers' pockets instead of helping those in need.
Always ensure your donations are directed towards verified charities and reputable organizations.
Sending A Paper Check Scam
Thought paper checks were outdated? Think again! This deception revolves around checks— only these are fictitious ones from the hustler mailed to cover some transaction or purchase made online. Your part in their game?
They prompt you to deposit the check, withdraw the money immediately, and send them back a fraction using—you guessed it—Venmo.
After a few days, those checks bounce because of zero balance or are entirely fake, leaving you with massive overdraft fees. So, don't accept payments outside of secured platforms when conducting online transactions.
Asking for Prepayment
One of the increasingly common Venmo scams involves asking for prepayment. Typically, a scammer will list an item for sale online, only to tell interested buyers that they require prepayment before shipping.
The scammer might provide a compelling reason, like needing the funds to cover shipping costs upfront or their trust issues due to past experiences with non-paying customers.
Once you submit your payment through Venmo, the item never arrives. Worse, it's typically too late to stop or reverse the transaction when you realize you've been scammed.
The Friend Scam
Another scam that has surprised many is known as 'The Friend Scam.' Here's how it works: A scammer hijacks your friend's Venmo account (or creates a new one replicating theirs) and sends you a money request over the platform.
Trusting your friend, you don't hesitate to fulfill this request only to find out later that it wasn't your friend who requested those funds--rather some scam artist. This common tactic often leaves people feeling violated and distrustful.
Impersonating Venmo Support
Then comes one of the boldest scams - "Impersonating Venmo Support." A fraudster contacts you in this case, posing as Venmo's technical support team.
He or she may inform you about a concerning issue with your account—like it being locked due to suspicious activity—and then offer assistance but need verification of your sensitive information first.
It could include username/password combo or, even worse, financial information. Seems tempting, right? As soon as they get hold of it, that's not ending well for sure.
Pretending to be a Romantic Partner
From online dating platforms to social media pages, romance is brewing everywhere. But wait! Before you lose your heart and money to a deft Casanova, be wary of this common Venmo scam where the scammer feigns interest in you for money.
After some smooth-talking, they may ask you for financial assistance due to a personal crisis or to manage flight expenses for meeting you.
They might even excuse themselves from a direct bank transfer and insist on using Venmo! Stay smart; never send money to someone you haven't met.
Impersonating an Employer
Thanks to the pandemic, more people are working remotely than ever before. And here's where cybercriminals snatch their chance!
They impersonate potential employers or recruiters on job portals, offering enticing work-from-home opportunities. Once you've "secured" the job, they'll ask for your Venmo details to process your salary—and bingo! They're invading your privacy.
Beware of such scams; verified employers will never request such upfront information without official documentation.
Pretending to Be Venmo
Believe it or not – scammers can pose as Venmo itself, making direct contact via email or text with alarming messages about account security breaches.
Fearful users may fall into this trap and provide sensitive information like passwords that these scammers require to access their funds.
A surefire sign of a scam is misspellings, informal language, or Gmail/Yahoo email addresses instead of a company one – which are not things professional services like Venmo use when addressing customers' concerns.
Asking for a Rental Down Payment Before Finalizing the Lease Agreement
Imagine this scenario: you're searching for a new place to rent and find the perfect apartment online. The landlord seems friendly and asks for the down payment on Venmo before you've even seen the contract.
Be careful! This is one of the more common Venmo scams. Fraudsters create captivating ads for non-existent properties or falsely pose as the owners of real ones. They entice potential tenants into sending money before providing concrete validation of their claims.
Always insist on seeing a rental agreement, meeting face-to-face, or validating ownership through trusted channels before transferring funds.
Another popular scheme among cybercrooks involves overpayment scams. In these situations, a scammer will pay for a product or service using Venmo but send more than the agreed price. They then ask you to refund them the excess money.
Once you refund them, they cancel their initial payment, leaving you short of your goods or services and the extra cash you sent back! A good rule of thumb: Always check that transactions are fully processed and cleared in your account before issuing refunds.
You may think that impersonations only happen in movies, but unfortunately, they're prevalent in digital scams, too.
In this kind of scam, fraudsters pretend to be someone trusted, such as a friend, family member, or even authority figures like IRS agents, demanding payments with little time for verification.
In these cases, you may believe it's more efficient to make quick payments via Venmo - but hold up! Verifying credentials directly through legitimate sources is crucial before sending any money quickly.
The Emergency Call Scam
Picture this: You receive a frantic call from someone in distress - they've been robbed, gotten into an accident, or are facing a medical emergency. When your heart begins to race, they ask you to transfer money via Venmo to help them.
This is the Emergency Call Scam. Regardless of how convincing the story sounds, don't let your emotions sweep you into ill-considered actions. More often than not, this plea for help is a ruse devised by con artists who prey on human empathy.
When contacted by someone claiming an emergency, connecting with them through another channel is advisable before sending any funds.
The Prize Scam
On the other hand, the Prize Scam works to entice you with non-existent loot. Imagine being told you've won a lottery or a lucrative prize! It’s exciting, right?
But there's one catch - you must pay some fees or taxes through Venmo before claiming this bonanza. Sounds too good to be true?
That's because it probably isn't! Being lucky is great, but falling for such prize scams could empty your pocket instead of filling it up.
FAQs about common Venmo scams
What is the most prevalent Venmo scam?
Overpayment scams are among the most common, where the scammer sends more money than required and then requests a refund of the excess amount.
How can I tell if I am being scammed on Venmo?
It might be a scam if you receive an unexpected payment request or funds followed by a message asking for a refund.
Is Venmo safe to use with strangers?
It's best to use Venmo only with people you know. Engaging in transactions with strangers could expose you to potential scams.
Can I recover money if scammed on Venmo?
Once funds are sent through Venmo, it becomes very difficult (if not impossible) to retrieve them unless the recipient cooperates in returning them.
Are there any red flags that signify a possible Venmo scam?
Sudden communication from individuals you don't recognize, prompts to click questionable links, or requests for personal financial information can all signal a potential scam.
Your financial safety is paramount in the age of quick and convenient digital transactions. Stay informed about common Venmo scams to keep those hard-earned funds secure.
It probably isn't if something sounds too good or urgent to be true. So, always take a moment to think before you click.
By staying vigilant and using Venmo responsibly, you can stay one step ahead of any hustler trying to take you from your money. Keep these tips in mind and confidently make the most of your tech-savvy lifestyle.