Don't Get Caught in a P2P Scam
P2P platforms are super-convenient, but P2P scams are rampant and varied. Plus, once money is transferred by P2P, it’s usually gone forever.
In this P2P scam, a stranger “accidentally” sends the target money and then reaches out, wanting their money back. The target sees these funds in their P2P account and returns them. Unfortunately, though, because this money was added to the target’s account using a stolen credit card or account, the platform flags the original transaction as fraud and removes the funds from the victim’s account.
Hidden credit card fraud
In this P2P scam, a fraudster purchases an item listed on a site, like Craigslist, using a P2P service. They’ll pick up the item, or have it shipped to their home, and they’ll never be heard from again. Meanwhile, the P2P platform will eventually recognize the funds for the purchase come from a bogus source, and will take the money back from the seller.
Fake customer representative
Customer rep scams are an old story, but their appearance in the P2P world is only as old as these payment platforms. In this scam, a target experiencing difficulty with a transaction on a P2P platform inquires about assistance on social media. A scammer sees that inquiry, and then reaches out to the target, claiming to represent the platform and offering their assistance. If the target falls for the ploy, they’ll be directed to a bogus support site where they’ll be asked to enter their account details or credit card info. This, of course, leaves them open to identity theft and financial loss.
In this scam, a “rep” from a utility company reaches out to a target, claiming their service will be shut off unless a payment is made immediately. The scammer insists on payment by P2P. Unfortunately, once the transfer is made, it can be impossible to reclaim the money.
In this scam, an alleged representative of a credit union or bank will reach out to a target by text, asking them to approve a recent large P2P transfer from their account. A “no” response will prompt the scammer to call the victim. Posing again as a rep of their financial institution, they’ll offer to assist in reclaiming the allegedly frauded money. To do so, the scammer claims the victim will need to share their Zelle login credentials. Unfortunately, if the victim shares the one-time passcode, the scammer can change the password and send themselves money through the victim’s account.
Here, a scammer will insert themselves into a legitimate P2P transaction by digitally manipulating a screenshot to make it appear as if they have completed a part of an ongoing deal and insisting you now owe them money. In truth, though, the transaction was never completed and, if you send the money, you’ll be sending it directly to a scammer’s P2P account.
American Bankers Association: Peer to Peer Payment Scams
Lifehacker: Sending Money to 'Yourself' on Zelle is a Scam
Bank Policy Institute: fraud on P2P Payment Apps like Zelle and Venmo
The Regulatory Review: The P2P Fraud Conundrum
Grow Financial: Avoiding Online Banking Scams