Cash App Fraud: What to do if You've Got Scammed Through Cash App

  • By David Lukic
  • Published: Oct 14, 2020
  • Last Updated: Jul 18, 2024

Peer-to-peer payment apps like Cash App, Venmo, Zelle, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Facebook Payments have gained popularity for easy money transfers among friends and family, but they've also become targets for scammers. These platforms prohibit commercial use, yet criminals exploit them with various Cash App scams.

cash app scams

Common Types of Cash App Scams

Experts advise users of any cash payment apps to read the warnings and use them only as directed. Cash App payments are generally safe, but users should be aware of scams and report any suspicious activity to protect their money and personal information.

There are warnings on both the Venmo and Zelle websites warning users to never send money to strangers using the apps. Scammers often pay using one of these apps, and then as soon as they receive the goods, they cancel the transaction before the recipient has time to transfer it out of their account and into their bank.

So There are several types of scams on Cash App that users should be aware of to protect themselves from fraud: 

Customer Support Scams

Each cash app platform has some form of customer support line in place. These services are helpful when you get locked out of your account or need to change your deposit location. However, they are hard to reach, and because of that, they're easy to impersonate.

Imagine that you've lost access to your account and need the money quickly. You're desperate and need help getting in touch with customer service. This is a regular occurrence as cash app hotlines often keep inconvenient hours. For example, CashApp only has a call service available on business days.

Thieves take advantage of user desperation and pretend to be a platform support team member. They bait people into calling their number by creating fake websites that pop up through a Google search.

The "customer support" representative will then try to steal the user's login credentials. Standard methods include getting targets to download a screen-sharing app or outright asking for the information. Once they have the account details, they'll use the account's existing balance or credit to make purchases for themselves.

Phishing and Smishing Attacks

The most common Cash App scams are phishing and smishing attacks.  

Phishing involves scammers sending fake emails that appear to be from Cash App, attempting to steal login credentials or personal information. These emails often contain links to fraudulent websites that look legitimate but are designed to capture sensitive data. 

Smishing, on the other hand, is a similar tactic that uses text messages (SMS) instead of emails. Scammers send messages with links or prompts to call a fake customer service number, aiming to trick users into revealing their personal information. 

Both phishing and smishing attacks rely on creating a sense of urgency or panic, convincing users to act quickly without verifying the legitimacy of the request. 

These  attacks are similar to customer support scams, except the criminals are contacting you instead. They use the information on your profile to find your contact information and then impersonate a support member from the platform.

Their messages will include buzzwords like "Immediate Action Required" or "Suspicious Account Activity." These stressful warnings push users into making hasty decisions and handing over their account credentials. Scammers will then use the account to make personal purchases or transfer money to themselves.

Fake Item Scams

Another type of Cash App scam involves fake item sales.

Many people mistakenly believe that peer-to-peer payments are more secure than they are because they have successfully used these services with friends. This false sense of security leads them to entrust large purchases to the app. Criminals take advantage of this by listing high-priced items like sublets, pet sales, or vehicles, aiming for larger payouts since Cash App doesn't offer buyer protection.

Scammers create listings with convincing "proof" of ownership on popular online shopping services like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Some experienced scammers may even engage in haggling or extend the transaction process to appear more legitimate. Once the victim sends the money, whether it's the full amount or a down payment, the scammer deletes their account and disappears, leaving the buyer with nothing.

Refund Payment Scams

Refund payment scams are another common type of Cash App scam that users should be aware of. The hardest thing to deal with is getting punished for being a good person. This is what happens in refund payment scams.

Scammers create a cash app account and link it to a stolen credit card or bank account. They'll then send money to random users and ask them to transfer the amount back to them. Of course, you won't get the money they "mistakenly" sent you because the original owner of the stolen card will have canceled the account.

So, the real loser in this situation is the unsuspecting cash app user who's just trying to do the right thing. The refund money is drawn from their account because it can't be pulled from the now invalid, stolen credit card.

Charity Scams

Another malicious scam, known as a charity scam, takes advantage of people's desire to help the less fortunate.  Scammers create fake charities and advertise them to cash app users. People are more willing to donate small amounts because of how easy it is to transfer money on these platforms.

Some scams go as far as creating the skeleton of a charity to appear more legitimate. This means developing a professional website, setting up a custom phone number, and even posting fake testimonials of people they've helped.

Remember that donating to a charity should come after some self-reflection. Not only should you consider if you are in a position to contribute, but you need to do deep research to know exactly where your money is going.

Cash Flipping Promises

This particular cash app scam has been played to death and isn't limited to cash apps. An investor or entrepreneur will ask you for a sum of money and promise to increase it by a certain amount.

Known as the Cash App money flipping scam, this tactic involves asking for small investments of $10 or $20. . The modest amount keeps you from weighing the risks and rewards too heavily and makes you more likely to buy in. Ambitious scammers may even send you back money once or twice. A one-time success entices you into making more significant investments they can run away with.

However, this money will come from other people's investments rather than any legitimately generated money. Tactics like this are commonly referred to as "Pyramid" schemes.

Romance Scams

Online dating is hardly a new idea. It's so common that a reported 20 percent of new relationships begin through a dating app or website.

Romance scammers leverage this trend to fool people into sending them money or revealing personal information. They create fake profiles (usually under the guise of a woman) and court their victim over a short time.  A romance scam often leads victims to believe they are in a genuine relationship.

After earning enough trust, the scammer fabricates an emergency and asks their target for help. This usually comes in the form of sending them money over some cash application. Once the scammer gets what they want, they'll delete the account and ghost the victim.

cash app fraud

What to Do After Getting Scammed on a Cash App

If you realize that you have been scammed on Cash App, it's important to act quickly to mitigate any further damage. Here are some immediate steps to take:

  1. Stop Further Transactions: Cease all activity on your Cash App account to prevent further unauthorized transactions. Disable your account temporarily if necessary.
  2. Report the Scam to Cash App: Use the app to report the incident directly to Cash App. Follow their guidelines for reporting scams and provide all necessary details.
  3. Contact Your Bank: Inform your bank about the fraudulent activity. They can help secure your account and possibly recover some of the lost funds. They might also suggest additional security measures.
  4. Change Your Passwords: Immediately change your Cash App password, as well as any other accounts using similar credentials. Use strong, unique passwords to enhance your security.
  5. Monitor Your Bank Account: Keep a close eye on your bank account for any unauthorized transactions. Set up alerts to notify you of any suspicious activity.
  6. Consider Identity Theft Protection: Identity theft protection services can offer additional layers of security and assist you in recovering from scams. These services monitor your personal information and alert you to potential threats.
  7. Educate Yourself on Future Scams: Stay informed about new scam tactics by regularly reading up on cybersecurity news and updates. Being aware of the latest scams can help you recognize and avoid them.

Cash App Fraud Protection

Some other tips for keeping your money safe when using these types of cash transfer apps are: 

  • Always secure the apps via a PIN code or some other security measure in case your phone gets stolen.
  • Read the user agreement to make sure you aren’t violating any policies.
  • Turn on two-factor authentication when available.
  • Only use the app with people you know well.
  • Be careful of vendors who require you to use payment apps like Zelle, Venmo, and Cash App. 

Always be on the lookout for scams, data breaches and things that sound good but also a little fishy.

More Alarming Cash App Hacks to Know 

While understanding common scams is essential, it's also important to be aware of more alarming Cash App hacks that can compromise your security. Here are some advanced threats you should know about:

  1. Account Takeover (ATO) Attacks: Hackers use stolen login credentials from data breaches to gain access to your Cash App account. Once inside, they can change your password and lock you out of your account. To prevent this, use unique passwords for different accounts and enable two-factor authentication.
  2. SIM Swapping: In this sophisticated attack, scammers trick your mobile carrier into transferring your phone number to their device. Once they control your number, they can intercept SMS verification codes to access your Cash App account. Protect yourself by setting up a PIN or password with your mobile carrier and using app-based authentication when possible.
  3. Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) Attacks: These attacks occur when a hacker intercepts communication between you and Cash App. They can steal login credentials or personal information. Avoid using public Wi-Fi for financial transactions and ensure your home network is secure.
  4. Phishing via Social Engineering: More advanced phishing attacks involve social engineering tactics where scammers manipulate you into revealing confidential information. They might impersonate someone you trust, like a friend or a Cash App representative. Always verify the identity of anyone requesting sensitive information.
  5. Fake Cash App Notifications: Scammers can send fake notifications that appear to be from Cash App, prompting you to click on malicious links or download harmful software. Verify notifications directly within the app and avoid clicking on suspicious links.
  6. Credential Stuffing: In this attack, hackers use automated tools to try thousands of username and password combinations to gain access to accounts. Using unique, complex passwords and enabling two-factor authentication can help prevent such attacks.
  7. Rogue Apps and Software: Be cautious of downloading apps or software that claim to enhance Cash App functionality. These can be trojans or malware designed to steal your information. Only download apps from official app stores and trusted sources.
  8. Spoofed Phone Calls: Scammers use spoofed phone calls to trick victims into thinking they are receiving legitimate calls from their banks. For example, Chrysanthi Rausch was scammed in a terrifying scheme where she received a call from someone claiming to be from her bank about a fraud alert. She provided a verification code, which allowed scammers to create a fake Zelle account in her name and access her bank accounts, stealing $1,600. This highlights the importance of verifying any unsolicited requests for information directly with your bank.
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