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Woman lends phone to boy, has thousands stolen via Venmo

'I feel like this is the new pickpocket'
Posted at 2:52 PM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-18 10:37:57-05

A central Florida woman nearly lost thousands of dollars after she says a boy asked to use her phone for help and instead used Venmo to take her money.

Shannon Fraser was walking her dog when she says she ran into a young boy who told her this:

"My phone is dead. I can't find my family or friends. I've lost them.' He's on a scooter. And he's like, 'Can I please use your phone to call them? Your first instinct is to help a kid. Like immediately. Without thinking, and hindsight is 20/20, I just handed him my phone,” she said.

She said the boy looked about 12 years old.

"He had the person on speaker. He's like, 'I can't find you guys.' He said, 'Do you mind if I open your maps?' So he opens up maps and I'm watching him do this,” she said. "That's the crazy part. I'm a foot away.”

They parted ways and Fraser didn’t think anything of it until Monday night.

"I get alerts from my bank that my two Venmo transfers were approved. One was in the amount of $1,800. The other one was in the amount of $2,000. And that's when I stopped dead in my tracks,” Fraser said.

She contacted Venmo immediately and discovered the boy’s account was set up just 30 minutes before she met him.

"I feel like this is the new pickpocket,” she said.

The Better Business Bureau says this is an important warning especially since a number of times, these situations go unreported. Their best advice: requiring face ID and pin not just for your phone, but the Venmo app itself.

"Most of my apps were protected by face identification. I thought Venmo was as well. It wasn’t,” Fraser said.

In just 3 minutes, Fraser said he took nearly $4,000.

She said Venmo credited her account everything that was taken, and her next call was to police.

"I think our guard has to be up more and that's the sad part of the story,” she said.

Venmo said they looked into Fraser's case and resolved the situation.

They add that they are aware of this type of scam as they call it, but are not seeing a significant rise in reports.

The company said they have a number of options for customers to enhance security to their accounts including enabling touch ID and pin and complete multi-factor authentication.