Boy asking to use phone for help instead uses Venmo to take nearly $4K, Baldwin Park woman says

Feb 16, 2022, 4:43 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 4:36 pm
A woman lost almost $4000 in a phone scam involving a young boy asking to use her phone....
A woman lost almost $4000 in a phone scam involving a young boy asking to use her phone.

ORLANDO, Florida (WESH) — It was a calm Saturday evening in the picturesque Baldwin Park neighborhood in Orlando. Shannon Fraser was walking her dog when she said 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,’” Fraser said. “He’s on a scooter. And he’s like, ‘Can I please use your phone to call them?’”

She said she immediately helped him.

“Your first instinct is to help a kid,” she said. “Without thinking, and hindsight is 20/20, I just handed him my phone.”

She said the boy looked about 12 years old.

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

They parted ways and Fraser did not think anything of it, until Monday night.

“I get alerts from my bank that my two Venmo transfers were approved,” she said. “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 that the account that her money was transferred to was set up just 30 minutes before she met the boy.

“I feel like this is the new pickpocket,” she said. “They’re preying on your kindness as opposed to just stealing something from you.”

The Better Business Bureau of Central Florida said this is an important warning especially since a number of times these situations go unreported. President and CEO Holly Salmons said her best advice is setting up face ID and a pin, not just for your phone, but for the app itself.

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

In just three minutes, she said the boy took nearly $4,000.

On Tuesday evening, Fraser said Venmo credited her everything that was taken. She added while the company has credited her account, it has not yet given her access to the money until they complete their investigation.

She said she contacted Venmo and her bank and her next call is to police. She said she is sharing her story about how helping someone hurt her.

“It’s changed me in a lot of ways,” she said. “I think our guard has to be up more and that’s the sad part of the story.”

Venmo tells WESH 2 News that 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.

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Boy asking to use phone for help instead uses Venmo to take nearly $4K, Baldwin Park woman says