Is this a Scam or Does just suck?
June 5, 2020 6:20 AM   Subscribe

$100 showed up in my bank account via Now, someone is asking me to send them $100 to fix their "mistake." I don't want to be an assholes if this was a real mistake, but I also don't want to be scammed out of $100. Savvy people of Metafilter, please help me figure out what to do. More details inside.

Earlier this week I received a notice via email that I had received a $100 payment via Cash.App and it would be deposited in my bank account on Wednesday. I have not used Cash.App since it became Cash.App and I assumed the message was some kind of scam. Now I've received two requests from someone asking for the $100. The payment came from one person and included a message that indicated it might be a prize for something. The messages asking for the money have come from someone else. The first message reads "For mistake, my name is ElizaMain too. plssss" The second message reads "For refund for 6 year old daughter that won a contest."

I did a little research and it seems like I ought to be able to refund the payment back to the original sender through and this would not put my own money at risk.

Then I tried to log in to Cash.App. First I tried through my computer. When that was unsuccessful, I downloaded the app. I had the same problem with both, I could not get confirmation codes sent to either my email or phone. After many, many tries, I was finally able, through the app, to get a confirmation code via a phone call. By this time I was a little freaked out, so the first thing I did when I got in was delete the link to my bank account.

Only after deleting my account link did I look for the link to refund the payment to the original sender, but the refund option did not appear where it was supposed to be. It then occurred to me that the problem might be that I had disconnected my bank account, so I tried to add it back. That was unsuccessful - probably because my bank was having problems with online banking at the time.

At this point I was frustrated and gave up. Later that evening I got a barrage of confirmation codes from Cash.App delivered to my email and text. Getting to codes made me feel less worried about being scammed but also less confident in using Cash.App.

This morning, I decided to try one more time to see if I could refund the payment. This time I added my debit card through the app. That worked, but the refund option is still not showing up on the original payment. Selecting "support" in the app does not get me any helpful information or contact information for actual support. I also cannot confirm that the payment is still in my bank account or directly add my bank account because my bank's online access remains down.

So, TL:DR I have $100 of a stranger's money sitting in my bank account because of Cash.App. I have spent entirely too much time and energy trying, unsuccessfully, to refund it using the Cash.App refund feature and am very hesitant to "refund" it by making a separate payment either to the original sender or the person who has contacted me saying the payment went to me by mistake. I also am eager to delete my account again and delete off of my phone. I want to do the right thing. What should I do?
posted by ElizaMain to Work & Money (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You've already put more energy into this than you should have. It's $100 and more-than-likely this is a scam. I suggest just putting down the app and walking away.
posted by SPrintF at 6:36 AM on June 5, 2020 [11 favorites]

Have you contacted Cash.App support and asked them for a verification of the funds history? And what they know about the transaction?
posted by rich at 6:37 AM on June 5, 2020

This sounds like a variation of the overpay scam. Someone tried it with some friends via a fake cashiers check.

The scammer sends the scammee money "by mistake" - an overpayment, a miscalculation of exchange rate, an incorrect bank account number - and desperately requests a refund, usually telling a heartwrenching story. If the scammee falls for it and "refunds" the money, the scammee is screwed. The original "overpayment" proves to be fraudulent, the fraudulent "overpayment" is reversed by the bank / financial app and the scammee is out the money the scammee sent to the scammer.

The scammer has to trick the scammee into sending money before the bank / financial app figures out the "overpayment" was a fradulent deposit. Expect the drama to escalate.
posted by jointhedance at 6:41 AM on June 5, 2020 [35 favorites]

PS cancel that debit card, tell the bank to stop the payment if it went through.
posted by jointhedance at 6:44 AM on June 5, 2020 [5 favorites]

Honestly I have heard of this legitimately happening, but as you say there's no real way to know for certain.

I want to say the Reply All podcast had a segment about this. In that specific case, it turned out the payment app in question transferred money immediately so there was no risk of payment reversal but it definitely took a lot of effort to figure out if two strangers could/should trust each other.

Other apps definitely do have a hold time. I'm not sure which model Cash App operates under.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 6:46 AM on June 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Based on the discussion above, maybe wait a month or two, and if it's still there, then ask your bank how to refund it?
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 6:49 AM on June 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Everything about this sounds like a scam, including the fact that the supposed recipient is contacting you rather than the supposed prize-giver. It might seem marginally more legitimate if the original sender had contacted you with a full explanation, their contact information, etc.
posted by pinochiette at 6:50 AM on June 5, 2020 [16 favorites]

You say you've had a bunch of email notifications about money being deposited into your bank.

Have you double checked that the deposit actually landed in your own bank account, by using your own bank's online banking portal, accessed via your own web browser using a link you typed in and not one from an email?

In any case, this is not your problem. This is between whoever deposited the $100 (assuming it was a real deposit) and the organization they used to facilitate that. Even if it's not the total scam it absolutely smells like, fixing it is not a thing you're in any way obligated to be involved in. Just don't spend the $100 if you do manage to get through to your bank and it has in fact showed up, because it will almost certainly be going away again real soon now.
posted by flabdablet at 7:07 AM on June 5, 2020 [12 favorites]

The first message reads "For mistake, my name is ElizaMain too. plssss" The second message reads "For refund for 6 year old daughter that won a contest."

Scammy scam scammity scam scam scam.
posted by flabdablet at 7:09 AM on June 5, 2020 [50 favorites]

I also am eager to delete my account again and delete off of my phone. I want to do the right thing. What should I do?

You should delete your account again and delete off your phone. If you feel moved to, you could also contact your bank's customer service line, tell them the story, and get them to flag the account where the $100 came from (if indeed it was a real deposit) as one to be watched for further frauds.
posted by flabdablet at 7:15 AM on June 5, 2020 [18 favorites]

This is tough! I'm sorry their customer support is so terrible, but it sounds like you've been kind of panicking about the whole interaction too in a way that made it harder. Is there a way for you to slow down a bit here?

People really do screw up their own email addresses. I have a friend with a reasonably common firstname.lastname gmail account and he gets other people's banking confirmations, among other things.

If it takes a couple of days to get a response from customer support, it takes a couple of days. There's no reason for you to keep money that isn't yours, but it's ok if it takes a little time to sort out. Send off all the customer support queries, check back in on now that their confirmation emails are coming through and see if any of your options have changed. Set yourself a calendar reminder to delete your account in a week or two. Make sure the money is actually in your bank account as reported by your bank.
posted by Lady Li at 7:35 AM on June 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

100% scam
posted by thelonius at 7:36 AM on June 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

I work in an area where I deal with bank fraud every single day. I can confirm that everything jointhedance said above is correct. This is a scam.

Don't respond to any further messages, disconnect your bank account from the app, delete the app and ask your bank to cancel and replace your debit card in case it, too, becomes compromised.
posted by essexjan at 7:41 AM on June 5, 2020 [23 favorites]

ask your bank to cancel and replace your debit card in case it, too, becomes compromised.

If the only place the debit card has been used in all of this is linking it to, there's no need to do this.

The emotional plea of a disappointed child is a classic manipulation used by scammers.

I suggest just sitting on this for two-three weeks. I bet during that time, will determine that the transaction was fraudulent and take the money back (which you probably gave them legal permission to do by signing up for the app).
posted by Candleman at 8:03 AM on June 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

Oh, yes, let me amend what I said above also. Try to do a refund on the specific transaction through cashapp specifically. Don't send money outside of the app; none of this is so urgent you can't wait to get cashapp support back, and someone *pushing* for urgency, snap decisions, etc is a red flag that you should slow down and take your time and be extra careful.
posted by Lady Li at 9:12 AM on June 5, 2020

To me, isn't the issue here. I think you're pretty protected from that front personally.

Someone stole a credit card, hooked it up to, sent you some money "accidentally", and now wants you to send them your legit money. Eventually the stolen money they sent you will get sucked back out of your account.

If this weren't a scam, the person who sent you money would be working with to reverse the payment. They wouldn't be talking to you. It's totally a scam. I don't think you've compromised yourself.

If you hate, get rid of it if you don't need to use it. Do it now. At this point, is not really doing anything except letting the scammer talk to you. This is all going to get handled by the fraud departments of your bank and the bank behind the stolen credit card. If you truly feel compelled to do something, reach out to your bank and let them know what you are concerned about. They'll help you feel better I would bet. But I also think if you do nothing, this will work itself out on its own.
posted by cmm at 9:26 AM on June 5, 2020 [6 favorites]

This sounds like a variation of the overpay scam.

I didn’t even finish the first sentence of the question before I knew this what was happening.

This exact scam is at least as old as the invention checks, and I’m sure we’d find that people were doing this 500 years ago in Renaissance era Florence as well, just using letters of credit from foreign kings or whatever.

It has a decent chance of literally being the “oldest trick in the book.”

As far as the “extra” $100? You will certainly find it missing whenever cleans up whatever fraud that got the not real $100 put their in the first place.
posted by sideshow at 9:52 AM on June 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

Thanks everyone! I’ve marked the answers that helped me assess the context best. The comment from cmm mentioning stolen cards helped the last piece of the puzzle fall into place for me. I will spend no further energy on this, except possibly to report the fraud to my local bank, and just pretend the $100 never showed up.
posted by ElizaMain at 10:49 AM on June 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

I've used for a couple of years, never had any kind of a problem. ETA: I wouldn't send $100 to any stranger, ever.
posted by JimN2TAW at 12:53 PM on June 5, 2020

First, this is definitely a scam. Do not interact with whoever sent you the money further, don't try to withdraw the payment and contact's support to have them look into the fraudulent payment.

Second, just because they were able to send you money doesn't mean that your sensitive account info was compromised. In fact, I'd say it most likely means just the opposite. Since all they need to send you money is an email address, phone number or $Cashtag, they only need to look up info that's considered public or only minimally private to run the scam. If they already had your bank account or payment card info, they would've drained your accounts directly instead of hoping you'd fall for this round-about trick.

I'd probably recommend checking out their help articles about keeping your account secure and possibly turning off requests, and it goes without saying to keep an eye out for other suspicious activity on your accounts while you're at it.
posted by Aleyn at 5:26 PM on June 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Please could you update us and confirm that the $100 has gone from your account when it happens.
posted by essexjan at 7:01 AM on June 6, 2020

Someone paid me in error on Paypal. I pushed them to have Paypal get involved because it wasn't my error, there are so many scams, and they need to solve the issue to my satisfaction. It was a genuine error, paypal corresponded with me, and I refunded.
posted by theora55 at 12:15 PM on June 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

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