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Cell phone scam targets Venmo accounts, police warn

Police say you shouldn't hand your phone to a stranger to use under any circumstance.
Credit: WTSP
Venmo app seen on an iPhone screen

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Clearwater police say people have been scammed out of hundreds of dollars in our area simply because they were trying to help strangers.

Six times in the last month, people have been approached by someone who asked to use their phone to call a ride or get ahold of a friend or relative. Once the scammer had the phone, they pretended to make a call, but instead went into the owner's Venmo account and transferred money to themselves.

Clearwater police say the six people saw hundreds of dollars taken from their accounts, transferred through the app. 

You shouldn't let anyone borrow your phone, police warn, no matter what someone says they need it for. Police suggest if you want to still be a good Samaritan, offer to dial the number for them and put your phone on speaker. 

"Under no circumstances, especially in the era of COVID-19, should you hand your phone over to a stranger to use."

If you have any information on the recent scam cases, call Clearwater police at 727-562-4242.

Never let strangers borrow your phone, no matter what kind of excuse they give you. If they need to make a call, make the call for them. We've had a string of recent fraudulent Venmo transfers where suspects have said they needed to call for a ride, then duped the victim. The victim ends up seeing a transfer of hundreds of dollars from their account to another account. Here are some tips from Detective Hyppolite on how to not become a victim.

Posted by Clearwater Police Department on Tuesday, July 14, 2020

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