The darknet loves Venmo and Cash App — and no, it’s not because the criminal underworld is obsessed with the ease of paying back friends for that round of mai tais.
The same features that have made the payment apps so convenient to the rest of us are also a huge boon to cybercriminals.
Apps like Venmo and Cash App have 3x to 4x the fraud rate of credit or debit cards. And Cash App has been mentioned 10k+ on the dark net in August, up 450% from last year.
You can blame some of this on marketing
In 2017, the app launched a “Cash App Fridays” promotion: Share your username, and the company might send you some extra dough.
Only problem? Fraudsters are collecting those usernames, too. And they will hit you with all sorts of bogus charges in the hopes of collecting money from unsuspecting users.
Now they’re targeting people who are already struggling financially.
OK, but how do Cash App scams work?
One single mother, Ashley Tolley, received a series of charge requests from accounts that looked real — minus a slight letter change.
Scammers made off with $560. That was equal to a month of child support payments.
Is any payment app safe?
Zelle — the payment service backed by Bank of America, Chase, JPMorgan, and others — is one of the few to have extra verification steps. You have to register through your bank, for instance.
And it seems to work. On the darknet, according to the Times, fraudsters mention Zelle way less than other payments apps.
Get the 5-minute roundup you’ll actually read in your inbox
Business and tech news in 5 minutes or less