INDIANAPOLIS — The Better Business Bureau is warning Hoosiers of scams that are targeting finance apps like “Cash App.”
Dozens of people nationwide have fallen victim so far, including several people in the Indianapolis metro.
“It was just easier for me to send money to my kids or for them to send money to me,” Dawn Williams explained. “Real easy. You just pick up your phone and type in the amount.”
Cash App is similar to other payment apps like Venmo and Square Cash. It allows people to link their bank cards to the account so that they can accept direct deposits. Some retailers also allow customers to pay this way. That’s how Williams found out something was wrong with her account.
“Every morning, I get a cup of coffee at McDonald’s. The morning I went, my credit card wouldn’t be accepted. The lady ran it three times and said it wasn’t declined, but that it either could not accept or do not accept. She’s like, ‘I have never had that,’” Williams told CBS4.
Williams went home and looked up the Cash App phone number online. Before she got the chance to call a representative, though, someone called her from that same number.
“It sounded just like the bank,” she recalled. “They did identify as being Cash App and said there has been problems on your card.”
Williams said it started out as a recording but advised her to press ‘one’ if she wanted to speak to someone. Williams said she opted to speak with a human customer service rep.
“Once I got on the phone, the gentleman asked me if someone else had my card. I told him no,” she went on. “He said from three separate locations, someone had tried to access my account.”
Williams said the man suggested she add security to her phone. He had her download an app to do so.
“What he had me download, I have now been told, gave him access to mirror what was in my phone,” Williams said. “Naïve, I did it.”
Williams fell for a scam. After an hour of being on the phone, Williams said the man on the other line stole $1,159 from her Cash App account and $600 from her bank account.
“I just started crying. I went into a serious depression,” she said, emotional.
Williams has struggled for months, trying to bounce back. She has to pay rent, put gas in her car and food on the table. Meanwhile, her 19-year old son, who was saving up for a car, had his money in his mother’s account. He, too, has lost hundreds of dollars.
Williams tried getting in touch with Cash App but said no one would respond to her messages.
It was a similar situation for Deavin Bledsoe.
“I had never had a credit card or anything so I was trying to find out how to save my money besides having cash,” he said. “When it started out, it seemed fine.”
In July, though, Bledsoe said he was supposed to get paid $100. The money never showed up in his account.
“I sent an email to CashApp, concerned about the money. About an hour later, they said they would get back with me shortly. About an hour later, I got a phone call. On the phone call, they were talking to me. They wanted to talk to me pertaining the case about the $100 on the CashApp that I never received. They said they needed to look into my account.”
The “representative” on the other line had Bledsoe download an app. About a half hour later, Bledsoe said thousands of dollars was gone from his account.
“I had $1,700 in there,” he said. “But my account said $0.”
Bledsoe, who receives disability, is on a fixed income. He said he, too, has struggled after losing so much money. He showed CBS4 where strangers started taking money from his account. There were 17 unknown transactions in all.
The CBS4 Problem Solvers reached out to Square Communications, which owns CashApp, for comment. The company sent a statement:
“We are always working to protect our customers, which includes educating them about phishing scams. As a reminder, the Cash App team will never ask customers to send them money, nor will they solicit a customer’s PIN or sign-in code outside of the app. If you believe you have fallen victim to a scam, you should contact Cash App support through the app or website immediately.”
CBS4 spoke with Mackenzie Ritter, with Square Communications. She promised to look into Williams’ and Bledsoe’s accounts, but added it could take some time before figuring out a solution. Ritter passed the cases onto managers at “CashApp Support.”
On November 6th, weeks after our discussion with CashApp, the company refunded Williams $1,763.73. It wrote, “please note, we paid this credit as a courtesy. We may not make future credits available should you allow a similar event to occur on your new account.”
The Better Business Bureau said it is very aware of CashApp and customers’ frustrations. The organization has heard from dozens, if not hundreds of people, who have complained about similar scams.
“Basically, what is happening is that this company is using a banking app but they do not have a traditional customer service 800-number. They want all their customer service to go through email,” Tim Maniscalo, with the Better Business Bureau, explained. “But what has happened is scammers have gone out and they’ve actually established an 800-number, calling themselves the customer service people, and when you call that 800-number, they’re going to ask for your account number and have access to your banking information through that app.”
Maniscalo said the BBB has received at least 42 formal complaints about CashApp within the recent years. Dozens of others have left poor reviews.
On November 11th, CashApp sent CBS4 an updated statement:
“We are aware that there has been a recent rise in scammers trying to take advantage of customers using financial products, including Cash App. We’ve taken a number of proactive steps and made it our top priority to educate our customers on best practices, provide them with tools to manage their money responsibly, create paths for customers to easily report bad actors, and work with third party platforms to take down fraudulent accounts. These efforts are ongoing and we remain committed to the work.”