Protect Yourself from “Accidental” Deposit Scams

May 3, 2024

Unintentional deposit scams are on the rise, particularly due to the popularity of mobile payment apps such as Zelle, PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App. Let’s dive into the details:

What Are Accidental Deposit Scams?
In an accidental deposit scam, scammers use mobile payment apps to deceive users into sending them money.

Here’s how it works:
You receive a sum of money through a payment app from someone you don’t know.

Suddenly, your inbox is flooded with messages claiming that the sender made a typo, accidentally sent you money, and kindly requests that you return it.

The catch? The money “accidentally” sent to you likely originated from a hacked credit card or bank account. Essentially, the scammer is laundering money.

If the bank detects the fraudulent activity and reverses the charge while you’re in the process of returning the money, you might end up paying an untraceable scammer from your own bank account.

How the Scam Works:
– The cyber criminal hack into someone’s credit card or bank account.
– Creates a fake profile on a payment app (e.g., Zelle, Cash App, Venmo).
– Uses funds from the stolen account to “accidentally” send a deposit to a real person (often chosen randomly).
– Floods the target’s app inbox with messages urging them to return the money.

The clock is ticking because once the bank or payment app uncovers the scheme, they’ll eliminate the deposit from your account.

However, here’s the twist: If you return the money, you’re essentially depositing your own funds into the scammer’s account. The “returned” money is no longer linked to the initial hacked bank account.

Your bank or app might automatically deduct the amount the scammer sent you, leaving you responsible for the loss.

What to do if someone “accidentally” sends money to you:
Never send money to someone you don’t know through a payment app, even if they sent you money first. If a stranger sends you money and asks for it back, follow these steps:

  • Contact the payment app directly to report the situation.
  • Do not communicate with the sender; scammers often use persuasive tactics.

Remember, protecting your wallet is crucial in the digital age, and vigilance can prevent falling victim to such scams.

Stay informed, stay secure, and be cautious when dealing with unexpected money transfers!

Thanks to for this important information

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David Snell at 95.9 WATD radio studios
For more than 20 years, David Snell’s Tech Talk has been a regular spot on The South Shore’s Morning News on 95.9 WATD fm.  At 8:11, David chats with show host Rob Hakala about what’s happening in IT today.  The subjects range from computer viruses, scams and cybercriminals to what Amazon, Apple or Microsoft are planning next.

He often shares new product information and reviews software that may help you, especially when there is a free version to try!

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