WILLIAMS, AZ — Cash transfer apps are easy and convenient, but a growing number of Americans are learning they can also make you a target for scammers.
The Arizona Attorney General's Office has received eight complaints about money transfer scams over the past year.
Some involve so-called "vishing" scams — the crook sends a fake fraud alert text, claiming to be from your bank, then asks if you tried to transfer money. If you respond, the scammer calls, again pretending to be the bank, saying they can reverse the charges — but first you'll need to "verify" your account information.
Don't do it.
Banking experts recommend finding your bank's phone number on a credit card, then calling and asking for the fraud department.
Other scams are even more sophisticated, involving hackers intercepting email exchanges between realtors and their clients.
Cat Smith thought she was communicating with her real estate agent about a property she wanted to buy in Williams, Arizona. The crooks set up a fake escrow company and claimed they couldn't accept a cashier's check because of COVID-19 protocols. Smith ended up transferring $10,000 into the fake account before realizing she'd been scammed.
"When they say that it's not going to happen to everyone, 'I'm too smart, it's not going to happen.' It can happen," warns Smith.
Her case is now with the FBI, but she's still out of her life savings. Many banks are reluctant to and rarely reverse charges in these situations.
Banking insiders suggest only using Zelle, Venmo, and Cash App to send money to friends and family, not for major purchases. Credit cards offer better consumer protection than cash transfer apps.
Finally, fraud investigators urge consumers to carefully check the email address before you send or receive sensitive information, especially if it pertains to financial matters.