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Scammers using payment apps to steal money from Good Samaritans

Atlanta Police said it’s problem they’ve started to see recently.

ATLANTA — Scammers are taking advantage of Good Samaritans by stealing money from electronic payment apps. 

Atlanta Police said it’s problem they’ve started to see recently.

The scam goes down with someone saying their phone is dead or they are in distress asks to use your phone to make a phone call, which puts your money at risk. 

It happened to James Leonard while he was visiting Atlanta during a business trip.

"Sometimes you try to be very good hearted these days and there are some ill intentions out there," said Leonard.

He said he was approached by a young guy on Ponce de Leon Avenue while waiting for a ride. The guy said he’d been in a fight and needed to call his grandma to pick him up. 

Leonard said he may have been ignorant by allowing the guy to use his phone, but he thought he was helping him out. He said the call was brief, but it turned out to be just enough time to rob Leonard through his Venmo app.

"He attempted to move almost $10,000 from the bank account and from the Venmo app," said Leonard.

He said his bank flagged it as fraud, but the Venmo request went through. A police report showed the thief ended up transferring $714.

The Atlanta Police Department said these kinds of thefts are starting to pop up more, but said there are ways to still be a Good Samaritan without becoming a victim of fraud. They suggest politely declining requests to use your phone, instead offer to call 911 for the person in the event of a true emergency.

Other tips include adding additional security measures to payment apps like a PIN, passcode and facial recognition.

It’s been over a month since Leonard’s incident and the money taken is still not available to him. 

"I was fortunate to get the money back but once the money did become available to me in my Venmo account, my Venmo account became frozen which it still is," said Leonard. 

Venmo said it is working to resolve the matter.