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Thieves using Venmo app to steal from Good Samaritans

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Posted at 5:51 PM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 00:57:46-04

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It’s happened at least six times on Clearwater Beach.

Police say someone is asking to borrow people’s cell phones to make a call.

And while another person acts as a distraction, the thief uses the Venmo app to transfer money.

“Within a minute or two. It’s just that quick. Usually, they say, 'My friend’s not answering the phone. I need to text them.' And that’s when they actually Venmo themselves money and then they just walk away,” said Detective Selena Hyppolite.

The bogus transfers have been anywhere from $500 to $1,000.

In one case, police say a thief grabbed a phone a woman had put down, making a transaction while she wasn’t looking.

Police say the obvious way to avoid this is never let anyone borrow your phone.

“You have your bank account information. And you may have your social security numbers in there. You have everything that can change your life,” said Hyppolite.

Along with making sure your phone is secured with a password, Venmo has added security features that can be also added like a PIN number and Face ID.

Police say they are still investigating to see if they track down where those fraudulent money transfers went.