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State Attorney General Alerts Residents of Venmo Scam

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is reissuing her consumer alert about payment apps and scams following reports nationwide of scammers targeting Venmo users.

The scam involves a scammer “accidentally” sending money to consumers on the peer-to-peer (P2P) service and then asking for the money back.  

The Attorney General advises consumers to never send back the money. Instead, they should contact the P2P service about the error. Scammers often use stolen funds that Venmo and other P2P services will eventually flag as fraudulent. A common version of this happens when a scammer uses a stolen credit card number to deposit the funds into a consumer’s P2P account. 

Eventually, the real holder of the credit card may succeed in getting that payment reversed as a fraudulent charge. This means the innocent consumer who returns the supposedly accidental deposit to the fraudster will experience a debit from the credit card company, and any transferred funds will come from the consumer’s P2P account balance. 

“Scammers are constantly evolving their tactics to exploit consumers,” Nessel said in a press release. “Remember, it’s always best to use an extra degree of caution with any transaction involving someone you do not know. If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, please do not hesitate to reach out to my department.” 

P2P scams can take many other forms, including: 

  • Scammers impersonating a consumer’s bank to alert them about “suspicious activity” on their account and direct them to send money to themselves or “the bank’s address” to reverse a transaction or to verify the account is not frozen.  
  • Fraudsters reaching out to consumers claiming to represent a fraud department or merchant and ask them to confirm information such as their bank account username and password, credit card or debit card data, or Social Security numbers.  
  • Scammers posing as a legitimate business requesting a P2P payment for a product or service. 
  • Scammers connecting a stolen credit card to a payment app then look for people selling big ticket items (such as a computer, tablet, or car) online. The scammers will offer to pay for the product using the app. Once the seller accepts the payment and sends the item, they’ll soon discover that the payment sent is not to a legitimate buyer, and the money collected is removed from their account. The seller is then without either the item or the money. 
  • Fraudsters sending spoofed emails warning that an account is about to be suspended and that the account holder must enter their password on a spoofed webpage.   

The Attorney General reminds consumers to never share their personal information, treat P2P payments like cash, and not pay for products until they receive them. Victims of a scam involving P2P payment apps can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.  To file a complaint with the Attorney General, or get additional information, contact: 

Consumer Protection Team 
P.O. Box 30213 
Lansing, MI 48909 
517-335-7599 
Fax: 517-241-3771 
Toll-free: 877-765-8388 
Online complaint form

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