We have recently witnessed how this Nation’s gas supply can get cut off by hackers using ransomware. But similar things are happening daily on a much smaller scale. Everyday, folks like you and me are getting scammed out of their hard-earned money by playing at our trusting nature and vulnerability.
We listed the 10 most ‘popular’ Cash App scams that you should be wary of, what the company is doing about it, and tips on protecting yourself.
1. Cash App Friday scam
Something as popular as the #CashAppFriday giveaway held by official Cash App Instagram and Twitter accounts was bound to become a breeding ground for scammers.
What started by accident when Twitter and Cash App users started asking strangers publicly for money by posting their $cashtag grew into an official Cash App giveaway. Every Friday, 10 people can win $500 each, 20 people $250, and 100 people $100. The giveaway’s hashtag is #CashAppFriday.
To win, users comment on Cash App’s IG post with their $cashtag and usually a more or less intelligent and valid reason to get the attention of Cash App staff or retweet Cash App’s Twitter post with their $cashtag.
From Cash App’s website:
- Prize Winners will be chosen at random. Your odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.
- Prize winners are notified by receiving a direct message from Cash App to their Twitter or Instagram account to request their full name and address.
So, now that we know what the Cash App Friday giveaway is let’s look at the scam.
People trying to win the official prize will get contacted by fake Cash App staff telling them that they won the award, but need to “pay a fee” to get the prize released.
They’re not asking for massive amounts because no one would fall for that (probably). Instead, they’re asking for $10, $15, or $20 that is more likely to get transferred to them by victims.
Once the victim transfers the money, the scammer blocks them from their social media account. And, because Cash App transfers are instant, there’s no way to cancel the transaction or get the money back.
Scammers might also send a fake Cash App link for users to sign into so that they can steal your login credentials and other crucial information. They’ll clean out your account and know where you live, among other things—very dangerous stuff.
Because you’re putting yourself under the spotlight when participating in the giveaway, your Twitter or IG account could become bombarded by all sorts of scammers that we’re covering on our list. For instance, a popular grift is cash flip.
2. Cash flipping scam
It’s hard to believe that people could fall for this particular scam, yet here we are. In short, scammers on social media are promising people 10x, 20x, or 100x their money. If you send them $200, for instance, they will turn it into $2,000. This is some wild stuff, I know. And internet seems to be full of philanthropists actively searching for people that need their help.
Sometimes, the scammers are pretending to be Cash App technicians and/or part of the #CashAppFriday team that can turn their $15 into $150 just like that.
This scam isn’t exclusive to Cash App, as they’re using Moneygram and other money transfer services. But apps like Cash App, Venmo, and Zelle are especially prone to scams of this kind. It’s because transfers are instant, irreversible, and these fintech companies aren’t particularly interested in helping their scammed users.
You will hear something like this: “Cash App is unable to cancel or refund Cash transactions after the funds have been transferred to the recipient’s bank.” from Cash App support.
3. Fake support number
Imagine something happened in the app that would warrant you calling Cash App customer support. Maybe there was an unknown transaction, or you got double charged. Whatever it is, you google for the Cash App support number, and you click on one of the first search results.
This is precisely what I presume hundreds or even thousands of people did and got scammed by the person on the other side of the line, pretending to be a Cash App representative.
They ask for sensitive login information and then clean out your Cash App and bank account. The scammers are doing ‘search poisoning’ to ensure that their fake support numbers rise to the very top of the Google search results.
The fact is that Cash App doesn’t have a live support number at all, and even if you call their number, you get a recording telling you to contact customer service through the app.
To protect your money, you need to remember not to talk to anyone on the phone claiming to be with Cash App. Instead, only contact customer service directly through the app, and never give your Cash App pin or sign-in code to anyone.
4. The cash circle
This modern take on chain letters is also called ‘infinity loom’, ‘the money board’, ‘blessing circle’, ‘the blessing loom’, ‘giving circle’, or ‘the mandala game’. It guarantees you a big return for a relatively small investment. The only thing that’s guaranteed is you losing your money and pulling in your friends and family so that they can lose some cash as well.
The FTC is warning people on their website not to fall for this. Here’s how it works.
A person will make a post on social media or even DM you directly with an invitation to join ‘the circle’ by sending $100 through Cash App or some other p2p payment service to the person at the center of an octagon-shaped playing board.
By sending $100, you get one of the eight spots on the outer ring of the octagon, and if you recruit others, you get to move in closer to the center of the board.
Eventually, you’re assumed to land at the center of a playing board and collect $100 from each of eight new recruits on the outer ring. That’s when you leave the game or start all over again with another $100 payment. Simple, isn’t it?
It’s a typical pyramid scheme where you need to constantly recruit more people so that older participants can get paid.
The FTC advises that if an offer comes to you from a friend or family member, you should warn them. Also, if you’ve paid someone to join this game, contact the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Your report can help them protect others from this ridiculous scam.
5. Pet or puppy deposit scam
So, you want to buy a puppy? That’s cute. But really though, you should adopt. One of the reasons is that you could lose a considerable amount of money by trying to buy a dog, puppy, or even a cat.
Purebreds can be very expensive, and scammers know that. They count on people’s desire to save money when buying stuff, and therefore, they’re trying to sell you purebred pets at absurdly low prices. To reserve the pet before someone else snags it, they ask for a deposit via Cash App.
You see where this is going. You lose the deposit, and you never get to even pet the damn dog.
What’s the bottom line here? Go to your local shelter and adopt a dog. Easy, peasy.
6. Romance scam
Romance scams reached a record $304 million in losses reported to the Federal Trade Commission in 2020. A rise of about 50% from 2019.
Romance scammers will make fake profiles on various social media sites, dating apps, and dating sites. FTC says that the scammers will most often tell you that they live or are traveling outside of the US. They’re ‘working on an oil rig’, or they’re ‘in the military’, or even serve as ‘doctors for international organization’.
The scammers will ‘fall in love’ with you very quickly and then start asking you to transfer them money via Cash App, gift cards, or other similar, irreversible transfers.
They’ll always make an excuse why they can’t meet with you and why they need you to send them money.
Romance scammers often ask for money for the following reasons (according to the FTC’s report):
- pay for a plane ticket or other travel expenses
- pay for surgery or other medical expenses
- pay customs fees to retrieve something
- pay off gambling debts
- pay for a visa or other official travel documents
Because social media profiles can be faked so easily, googling someone can reveal things about this sudden love interest but also doesn’t have to. A person with only a few Facebook friends should immediately raise red flags, but not necessarily.
The FTC suggests to ‘do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture to see if it’s associated with another name or with details that don’t match up – those are signs of a scam.’ Yes, scammers will use real person’s photos, which could be an easy way to find out if the person you’re communicating with is real.
I urge you to read what seem to be hundreds of comments on the FTC’s blog, of people that romance scammers contacted, to see their stories. It really is an amazing read.
7. Unsolicited Cash App debit card
Scammers send unsolicited Cash App debit cards through snail mail with an enclosed letter requesting you to download the app and scan the QR code. This is, in fact, a real Cash App card from a real Cash App account that scammers opened in your name.
They could use it as a pass-through account for other scam victims to send money to and transfer the money out of ‘your’ Cash App account in a matter of seconds if they have notifications enabled.
So, how can scammers simply open an account in your name? Since the Equifax data breach in 2017, half of US adults had their information exposed, including their SSN.
Don’t just throw away the unsolicited card and go on with your day. Get in touch with authorities and get the account closed.
8. Craigslist scams
There’s no shortage of scams on selling websites and apps such as Craigslist. If you are buying or even selling something there, you’re in real danger of losing both your sale item and your money.
As per Craigslist own website, most scam attempts contain one or more of the following in them:
- Inability or refusal to meet face-to-face to complete the transaction.
- Email or text from someone that is not local to your area.
- Vague initial inquiry, e.g., asking about “the item.” Poor grammar/spelling.
- Western Union, Money Gram, cashier check, money order, Cash App, Paypal, Zelle, shipping, escrow service, or a “guarantee.”
You should never pay for something upfront, as there’s a big chance that the seller won’t ship the item after receiving your payment. The same goes for deposits or partial payments. It’s easy money for them as you aren’t protected by your bank, Craigslist, or Cash App.
If the seller did agree to send you the shipment upfront, make sure you have it in your hands before you send the money. They’ll often tell you that they shipped the thing and that it’s safe for you to transfer money. They go as far as to Photoshop a post office receipt to prove the point. You could also get an empty package. Better safe than sorry.
The Craigslist website offers more examples of scams and some sound advice.
9. Fake apartment rentals
This one hits close to home. However, it wasn’t Cash App that was used, as it didn’t even exist at the time. My girlfriend at the time (now wife) got scammed out of an apartment rental in Amsterdam a good few years back.
She and her friends were booking an apartment for New Year’s Eve. The scammer posted photos of a real apartment on a booking website. The problem was, the apartment wasn’t his. They transferred him the deposit and he was messaging and taking calls until the last moment basically, when he disappeared.
Long story short, they never got their money back, but a neighbor, a nice old lady, took them all in, and they even went out to a party with her. Thank God there are still nice people out there.
This is a pretty easy scam to pull off and to fall for. Scammers post fake listings of real, previously advertised apartments. They list an amazing price for the would-be renter and then sit back and collect rent deposits and ‘application’ fees.
Once you transfer the money via Cash App, Venmo, or Zelle – it’s gone. The transaction can’t be cancelled or money refunded.
The pandemic has 10xd these scams as everyone was moving to virtual viewings and online leases.
If the person who posted the listing answers your questions by urging you to put down a deposit fast don’t give in to the rush and transfer the money. Real landlords will show you the house in person and take a check or a bank transfer rather than Cash App payment or wire transfer.
10. Call, email, and text phishing
These widespread scams target random users to click on a link and enter their account details or tell them sensitive information over the phone.
An example of an SMS message would be: “$750 Cash-App-Transfer is pending your confirmation.” There would also be a link enclosed that would take you to the scammer’s website.
There are also unsolicited calls going on from people (and robots) supposedly representing Cash App staff. They’re also trying to get your log in information so they can clean out your Cash App and connected bank account.
How to use Cash App safely
It’s not hard to use Cash App safely. Here’s expert advice:
- Remember that Cash App doesn’t have live phone support. Their listed phone number will tell you to use the in-app chat function to get support. Don’t talk to anyone on the phone claiming to be with Cash App.
- Never google support numbers for any app as the page listed on top could be from scammers.
- Never give your Cash App pin or card number to anyone.
- Cash App to Cash App payments are instant and usually can’t be canceled. Always have the product in your hands before you transfer money.
- Never click on links in emails or SMS, and if you do, don’t fill-in the information.
- Don’t use P2P services like Cash App to buy things from strangers.
- Only transfer money to people you know and always double-check that their username is correct.
- Set up a PIN or fingerprint to make transactions, turn on two-factor authentication, and enable notifications to get notified of any suspicious behavior.
- Be wary of sweepstakes and giveaways.
- Never post your $cashtag publicly.
- If potential product, service, price, or apartment sound too good to be true, they probably are.
- Don’t let strangers handle your phone. If you want to help them, let them dictate the message to you or type in the phone number yourself.
- Leave the mysterious money in your account and report it to the company. Let them return it within the system.
- Always report suspect listing, activity, or person to FTC or authorities.
- Or simply, stop using Cash App.
From Cash App website:
- ‘No one representing Cash App will ever ask for your sign-in code over the phone, on social media, or through any other medium. We will never ask you to send us a payment or provide sensitive information such as your full bank account information or Social Security Number. If you believe that you have fallen victim to a phishing scam, please change your Cash App PIN immediately and report the incident by contacting Cash App Support.’
If you notice unauthorized payments in your Cas App account, contact the merchant in question. To cancel the pending transaction and prevent further Cash App transactions via the app:
- Tap the Cash Card tab on your Cash App home screen
- Tap the image of your Cash Card
- Select Problem With Card
- Tap Card Stolen
- Confirm with your PIN or Touch ID
Find more tips on fraud and scam protection or report a scam on Fraud.org that works with the FTC.
When not to use Cash App
Don’t use Cash App to purchase products or services online. Use a credit card as it’s the safest way to buy products. You can dispute charges with the credit card company if you were defrauded, scammed, didn’t get products or services, or they were misrepresented.
Most credit card companies will altogether remove cc charges if you promptly report the problem. An alternative is to use PayPal as a payment option as it has a robust buyer protection program. Although, PayPal isn’t devoid of its own scams.
If a buyer refuses to accept a payment via one of these two options, it’s an instant red flag for you and a potential scam waiting to happen.
What is Cash App doing about it?
Cash App has no responsibility to pay or refund people who have fallen victims to a scam by people indicating to be a part of Cash App. But accounts that use the Cash App name and logo on Twitter are in clear violation of its trademark rules.
Cash App issued a statement: “We are aware of social media accounts that claim to be associated with Cash App. We have been working with Twitter and Instagram to deactivate all accounts that infringe our intellectual property rights (e.g., use our name or logo without permission) or seek to take advantage of our customers. 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. Additionally, Cash App currently has only two official Twitter accounts, @cashapp, and @cashsupport, both of which have blue, verified check marks. If you believe you have fallen victim to a scam, you should contact Cash App support through the app or website immediately.”
When it comes to preventing fraud outside of the app, the spokesperson said Cash App has started deploying SMS text messages with links to customers when they suspect that login attempts look unusual. Plus, if a customer is sending money to a person who Cash App thinks is not in their contact list, they will double-prompt them to make sure they want to send money to the account.
The problem is that hackers or scammers can move so quickly that by the time you realize what’s happening, the money is already long gone.
So, it seems that they’ve started doing at least something to protect their users. Too little, too late?
Tips on Communication with the Cash Team
Here’s what Cash App recommends:
- Only reply to emails from people and organizations that you know and trust. Cash App emails will come from ”@square.com,” @squareup.com,” or “@cash.app”.
- Emails from the Cash Team or Square will only contain links to websites at square.com, squareup.com, cash.app/help, or cash.me. If an email contains links to other websites, it was NOT sent by Square.
- The Cash Team will never ask you for your login information.
What to do if you have fallen for a Cash App scam?
You should immediately change your Cash App PIN and report the incident to Cash App support. Unfortunately, this can be a lengthy process as they don’t have live phone support and other means of communication are slow and can even take days to play out.
It really is a shame for such a giant fintech company. Hopefully, they’ll cave-in to pressure and step up their security game.
Read our Cash App review next.