Consumers should be on the lookout for email and text message scams involving Cash App and other mobile payment services like PayPal, Venmo, and Zelle that claim there was "trouble" with sending you a large deposit.
In this article, we'll take you through how falling for this deceptive email scam can eventually lead to charges of hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your credit card.
Step One: Cash App Email
The first step of this scam was an email that pretended to be from Cash App. The message claimed that a $500 Cash App deposit was owed to the recipient. However, the email did not come from an address ending with @cash.app, @square.com, or @squareup.com. (A page on the Cash App website says that its correspondence will only come from email addresses with these domain names.)
The scam email read, "We're having some trouble to deliver your $500.00 To Your CashApp® Account. Please complete your contact info to make sure is properly delivered to you. We will contact you using this information."
This was not a legitimate email from Cash App.
Upon clicking the "Confirm here" button, we were quickly led through several automatic website redirects. The route began with a storage.googleapis.com link, then went through aworldnewssh.info and umiddleway.com. The redirects ended with mediansquare.com.
Step Two: Fake Survey
Next, on mediansquare.com, we were presented with a survey scam. The website claimed that all we needed to do was take a 30-second survey in order to claim a $90 prize. (For whatever reason, the original promise of $500 in a Cash App deposit had changed to a $90 reward.)
After clicking through the survey in less than 30 seconds, the website presented pictures of several products, none of which was from recognizable brands. The page claimed that we could pick one of the items for free and that all we would need to do is pay shipping and handling.
Step Three: Select a Product
We selected the robot vacuum named RoBoKleen Vacuum, a product the website claimed was normally worth $299.99. On ezrobotvacuum.com (a website that apparently has no homepage) we were presented with a form that asked for our mailing address and a credit card number.
Making a purchase on this website was not going to be anywhere near "$0.00."
According to the checkout page, the grand total only for shipping and handling would be $5.99.
The Catch: Hidden Subscription Fees
Not mentioned anywhere on the checkout page was the fact that there was a hidden subscription fee that would charge paying customers $71.97 every month until they found a way to cancel. These fees were only described in the fine print on the separate page for terms and conditions.
Nowhere on the checkout page did we find any mention of the subscription fees, nor did we see a box to check that would indicate a customer agreed to abide by the terms and conditions.
According to the terms and conditions, the purchase of the robot vacuum was "a welcoming gift for joining the best consumer gadgets club on the web" that would provide a "$125 Gift Card to the best consumer gadgets club on the web." (Some websites often refer to these sorts of purported clubs as a "VIP membership" or "savings" offer.)
On top of the $71.97 monthly charge, the terms and conditions also said that it would bill customers for an additional $39.99 for a "Fitness program that is bundled with EZRobot Vacuum." This second monthly charge would begin "after the 45-day trial period is over," the page said.
The contact page on the website showed the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. We reached out to the company and will update this article if we receive a response.
'Captivating Gadgets Essentials'
Other than the robot vacuum, mediansquare.com claimed to offer eight more products that could be obtained for "free." These, too, had hidden subscription fees that were not described anywhere on the product or checkout pages. Also, yet again, there was no box for customers to check that would have indicated that they agree to the terms and conditions.
Several of the products were hosted on captivatinggadgetessentials.com, another website that apparently had no homepage. Those items included AutoShield DashCam, TurboVac Portable Vacuum, TechProPlus Smart Watch, RoadRunner Radar Detector, and MixMate Blender.
According to the terms and conditions, customers who purchased these products would eventually be charged a monthly fee of $89.85 and receive a monthly "$199 gift card" for the "Exclusive Gadget Warehouse Direct store." On top of the $89.95 monthly fee, customers would also be charged $82.45 every month for usage of an "Elite Force Fit App," the terms said.
The phone number for captivatinggadgetessentials.com showed as 866-979-9572. We called and were automatically put on a long, silent hold. No human being ever joined the call. Also, the email address, email@example.com, was not active. "Address not found," the automatic reply read.
The Other Products
The remaining three products that could be selected from on mediansquare.com were Keto Ascend ACV Gummies (or Adapt Slim Keto Gummies), SureShot Innovations Light Bulb Camera, and Multi Drill King.
The only product that did not mention subscription fees in the terms and conditions was the Multi Drill King. However, that product might still come with the same fees reflected on the pages for other products.
If You Were Scammed
If any readers went through the process of being scammed by any of the above scams or any similar ones, we recommend reaching out to any phone numbers or email addresses that were associated with the offers.
If calling and emailing doesn't quickly produce any help or answers, we advise a call to your credit card company to try to get a refund and to block any future recurring charges from the seller.
Also, generally, if any readers believe they have been the victim of fraud, we recommend filing a report with the FTC.
Always remember with online scams that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.