The scam is as simple as it is devious. You receive a notification from Venmo alerting you that you’ve received a payment from someone you don’t know. A couple minutes later, you receive another notification from the sender of the payment claiming that they sent the payment to the wrong account by mistake. That person then sends a payment request to you for the same amount they “accidentally” sent to you and asks you to pay it in order to equal things out.
Once you send the payment, they go through the Venmo app and cancel their original payment to you through Venmo’s cancelation system. The scammer gets to keep their money and because you don’t receive a notification about the transaction being canceled, they now have your money and you’re none the wiser.
Oftentimes, the scammer doesn’t ask for large amounts of money during the scam – the amount they might request can be a little as $25. Scammers do this because it isn’t likely to set off warning signs to potential victims the way a larger dollar amount might.
How to Avoid This Scam
The tricky thing about this scam is that there might be people out there who have genuinely sent money to the wrong account by accident. If someone reaches out to you claiming to have sent you money on Venmo by accident, you can reply with the following information for them to get their money back from Venmo.
“Open the Venmo app. If you sent money to an email address or phone number that is not associated with a Venmo account, you can cancel the transaction. … Tap the ≡ icon. … Select “Incomplete”. … Tap “Payments”. … Tap “Cancel” beneath the payment.”
If the person claiming they made a mistake refuses to use this information, they are probably trying to scam you and you should refuse anymore contact with them. Venmo has built-in fail-safes for users if they accidentally send money to the wrong person, which means anyone asking you to send money back to them to cancel out an incorrect payment is likely trying to scam you.