Cash App user says she was scammed; app is convenient but risky

Cash App user says she was scammed;  app is convenient but risky

Practical, but risky. That’s how a Milwaukee woman describes an app many people have on their phones.

Karen Brimley-Massey says expanding her digital wallet made her money less secure. Early one morning in mid-October, Brimley-Massey received multiple alerts that her money was being withdrawn through her Cash App account.

“My phone just started ringing,” Brimley-Massey said. “$200. $200. $200 coming out of my account.”

Brimley-Massey says she lost more than $2,000 through her Cash App account. After draining her Cash App balance, she says a hacker went after the money in her savings account linked to the app. Her credit union eventually blocked the transactions.

Brimley-Massey says her money was transferred to fake Cash App profiles created using her daughters’ names and photos.

“They didn’t spell their names right. It was pictures that they pulled from Facebook or something,” Brimley-Massey said.

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Brimley-Massey says she only got the app because she thought it would make her life easier.

“For my daughters, to easily send them money,” Brimley-Massey said.

Brimley-Massey tried to get her money back, but Cash App told her in an email, “this transaction was authorized by you or someone you authorized … your dispute is closed.”

“I certainly did not authorize it,” Brimley-Massey said.

According to the Pew Research Center, more than three-quarters of Americans have used a payment app or website at least once, such as PayPal, Cash App, Venmo or Zelle. But a third of these users report little or no confidence that their personal information is kept safe from hackers.

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Thirteen percent of people who have ever used PayPay, Cash App, Zelle or Venmo say they’ve sent money to someone and later realized it was a scam. A similar amount, 11%, report having their account hacked.

Khaled Sabha is a senior lecturer at the UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies. He says payment apps are convenient and fast, but entail risks. Money transferred through the apps by mistake is usually gone for good.

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“I’m not saying don’t use these apps, I’m saying this: use these apps safely,” Sabha said.

Before you authorize a transaction, Sabha says you need to double-check that the recipient is who you think they are. Log out when you’re done using the app. Also, link your account to a credit card, rather than a bank account, although the app may charge a fee.

“Credit card companies have better protection against fraud,” Sabha said.

Cash App told Contact 6 it cannot comment on personal matters. It sent Kontakt 6 a link to its support page, which has tips like only sending money to people you trust and double-checking the recipient’s information.

Brimley-Massey is in the process of closing its Cash App account. She also lost stocks and Bitcoin she had bought through the app.

“There’s no safety net. There’s nothing to protect you,” Brimley-Massey said.

It appears Cash App reopened her case, but Brimley-Massey says her last email to Cash App went unanswered.

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