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Woman claims criminals drained her mobile payment app

WFTV Orlando logo WFTV Orlando 10/18/2019 Gerry Mendiburt - Local | WFTV
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Mobile payment apps remain very popular for users and scammers.

Action 9 consumer investigator Todd Ulrich showed us how risky it can be and how you can avoid the cellphone payment scams.

In just 48 hours, Paula Riley said scammers drained nearly $900 out of her mobile payment app.

"They hijacked your account?" Ulrich asked. 

"They pretty much did," Riley said.

She used Cash App to transfer money between friends and family. A month ago, she asked them to support her struggling daughter.   

A dozen people sent $50 and $100 donations to Riley's account through their cellphones. But when Riley went to transfer the money to her daughter, it was all gone.

"This is crazy," Riley said.

Two days before the funds were taken, her account had a password problem. So Riley called what she thought was a Cash App number she found online.

"I called and asked them, ‘Is this the Cash App center?'" Riley said.

Riley gave them her account information linked to her debit card and bank account, which was the costly mistake.

"You thought they were trying to help you?" Ulrich asked. 

"I thought so, yes," Riley replied. 

"Instead, they were stealing your account?" Ulrich asked. 

"Exactly," Riley said.

Riley is one of eight Cash App customers who contacted Action 9 after feeling burned by fake company support numbers online.

She showed Ulrich three phone numbers she used.

Ulrich called one of the fake customer support numbers.  

"Is this Cash App support?" Ulrich asked. 

"Yes, how can I help you?" replied the person on the phone.

"Can you prove you work for that company?" Ulrich asked.

After a long silence, the person on the other end of the line hung up. 

Consumer experts said mobile payment apps are very convenient but can be easy targets for scammers, too.

"You should know most of these payment apps do not offer phone numbers. Most of the customer service will be by email or online," said Better Business Bureau President Holly Salmons.

Ulrich contacted Cash App about Riley's loss and the other customers who now feel burned, too.

"We're on the third week with no resolution. That's why I called you all," Riley said.

Cash App is reviewing Riley's loss and said it warns customers not to call customer service lines.

To avoid this scam, experts suggest linking payment apps to credit cards so scam losses can be disputed.

A Cash App spokesperson released this statement:

"We are always working to protect our customers, which includes educating them about phishing scams. We remind customers that currently (1) the Cash App team generally communicates via email; (2) the email will come from a cash.app, square.com, or squareup.com address; and (3) the Cash App team will never solicit a customer's PIN or sign in code outside of the app. For more information, we encourage customers to visit our website."

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