A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

BBB: Scam of the week — how not to get rich fast online but instead lose money quick to a scammer

Would you like to turn $500 into $10,000 with very little effort? Certainly. Many of us would and there are plenty of get-rich-quick ads on social media claiming to do it. BBB is seeing countless reports about these cons.

Get-rich-quick schemes are promoted with images of piles of cash and captions of winners bragging about flipping a couple hundred dollars into thousands of dollars in a short period of time. All users have to do is message the account holder.

The “investor” will ask for $300 to $800 to be sent through Venmo, Cash App, or another digital wallet service. Then they’ll “invest” the money in the stock market where it multiplies in a few days.

Here’s the catch. When users try to get their money back, the scammer claims that the digital wallet app is charging a fee to return it. In other cases, the con artist alleges taxes are owed to the Internal Revenue Service before the funds can be released. Some victims report sending thousands of dollars in phony fees. Every dollar paid for money flipping — from the initial “investment” to the alleged taxes — is going straight into the scammer’s pocket, never to be seen again.

Cash App and its parent company Square are aware that scammers are using its platform in this way and have communicated with customers who have been impacted by them. They recommend that any customer in need of additional assistance contact their support team at cash.app/help.

BBB recommends the following tips to avoid a money flipping scam: 
• Make sure the giveaway is legitimate. Since 2017, Cash App has offered weekly giveaways under the hashtag #CashAppFriday. The company partners with businesses and celebrities, who ask users to retweet or comment on their social posts in hopes of being selected for a cash prize. Scammers will often use similar language and pretend like they are part of an official giveaway. Make sure a giveaway is real before responding.
• Search online. Conduct a web search of the username or phone number posted about the investment. If it’s a scam, chances are that other victims have posted complaints and information online.

• Be very wary of buzzwords. Certain phrases should raise a red flag. Don’t believe anything that is “guaranteed” to do well, or that offers low or no risk with a high return. Anyone claiming to turn a small investment into piles of cash in mere minutes is more than likely a scam artist.

• Treat Cash App like cash. Once funds are sent using Cash App, it may not be possible to get that money back. Scammers are using these types of apps as their preferred payment.

Learn more about how investment scams use similar techniques by going to BBB.org/InvestmentScam.

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