Fact Check

'Accidental' Venmo Payment from a Stranger May Be a Scam

Beware of strangers on Venmo "accidentally" sending money and requesting it back.

Published Mar 10, 2021

 (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Image Via Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Scammers send fake payments to strangers on Venmo and then request that money be sent back.

In early March 2021, Snopes readers asked about screenshots of what appeared to be a scam circulating on the payment platform Venmo. The alleged scam shows a Venmo user sending $600 to another user and then requesting it back, claiming to have sent it to the wrong person:

Although we don't know the intentions of the Venmo user involved in the above exchange (and we cropped the person's name out for privacy reasons), sending money to strangers and then requesting it back is a known type of scam on Venmo.

The Dayton Daily News, a Dayton, Ohio-based daily newspaper, described how the scam works:

Even Venmo is aware of these scams and puts a warning on its website that Venmo is designed for payments between people who trust each other because there is no protection for the buyer or seller. Therefore, it’s important you don’t accept or give money to strangers who could potentially be scammers. For example, scammers connect stolen credit cards to Venmo and use them to transfer money to unsuspecting users. If you send the money back to the scammer, he or she will delete the stolen credit card from the account and add his or her own card in its place. Others send screenshots of fake emails that make it seem like they’ve paid you through the app, when they actually haven’t.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) also warns against this type of scam, in which a cash app user "accidentally" sends a stranger a payment and then requests that they send it back. The BBB advises that if you are targeted in an exchange like this, don't send the money back. Instead, ask the other person to simply cancel the transaction.

"The sender can request that the vendor cancel the transaction. If the person refuses, it’s probably a scam," the BBB states.

The BBB also encourages cash app users to check their security settings and to link their accounts to credit cards instead of debit cards or bank accounts because, in the event that you are scammed, it's easier to recoup the money if you charged it to a credit card.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who started her career as a daily newspaper reporter and has covered everything from crime to government to national politics. She has written for ... read more