Venmo is one of the most popular payment apps in the U.S., with millions of people using it to send and receive money. But its popularity has also attracted scammers. We’ll review the most common Venmo scams to look out for and give you tips on how to avoid them. And get Norton 360 Deluxe to strengthen your online security and help fight online scams.
Venmo scams can take many different forms. Here are 16 scams to watch out for in 2024.
1. Accidental transfer scams
Accidental transfers can happen on any online payment app, and some scammers on Venmo use this to their advantage.
In the accidental transfer scam, a scammer sends you money using a stolen credit card or hacked account. They then claim it was made by mistake and ask you to send the money back to a different account they control, leaving you out of pocket when the original transfer gets flagged as fraudulent activity and cancelled.
How to avoid accidental transfer scams:
Ignore any messages about accidental transfers. Unless it’s from someone you know, this so-called “accidental” transfer is likely a scam.
If you do get contacted by anyone claiming to have made an accidental transfer, promptly block them or report their messages.
2. In-person phone scams
While most Venmo scams occur online, in-person phone scams do happen. This form of Venmo fraud occurs when a scammer approaches you and asks to use your phone to make a quick call. They'll often say that their own phone's battery is dead or that they left it at home.
The scammer pretends to make a call but claims the person they were calling didn't pick up. They'll then ask if they can send a text. But instead of texting, they'll open your Venmo app and transfer money into their own account.
How to avoid in-person phone scams:
Don't let strangers handle your phone. If you want to let someone make a call or send a text with your phone, ask for the number and make the call yourself, or have them dictate their message.
3. Exclusive item scams
In exclusive item scams, someone reaches out to you or posts a marketplace listing claiming they have a hard-to-find item such as a limited-edition gaming console. They say they will accept payment via Venmo. But once you send the money, the item never shows up and you never hear from the scammer again.
How to avoid exclusive item scams:
Exercise a healthy amount of skepticism when you see any rare or expensive items that look too good to be true. And remember, there are likely scams on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and other second-hand marketplaces online.
4. Fake prize or giveaway scams
You may also encounter fake prize or giveaway scams that are carried out on Venmo. These scams typically work via email or text and claim you’ve won free money or a gift card on Venmo, with a link to a site to claim your winnings. However, the link actually leads to a malicious website that ends up infecting your device.
How to avoid fake prize or giveaway scams:
Never open links from texts or emails unless you’re sure of the sender.
Real prizes are free (or else you pay the fee when you enter the contest), so don’t believe any message that asks you to pay a fee to claim your prize.
5. Fake invoice scams
There are even Venmo business account scams to watch out for, like the fake invoice scam. In this scam, a scammer sends you a fake invoice with a message stating that Venmo is holding funds until you ship an item.
How to avoid fake invoice scams:
Always verify Venmo transactions in the app.
Venmo never holds payment until an item is confirmed to be shipped, so any email claiming to do so is fake.
6. Overpayment scams
In an overpayment scam, a scammer will intentionally send you more money than they are supposed to for a purchase — usually from a stolen card. Alternatively, they may send you a fake payment confirmation showing an overpayment. They’ll then ask you to send the difference to another account.
How to avoid overpayment scams:
Always check your account directly to see how much you’ve received and always check the sender’s email address.
7. Customer support scams
Customer support scams are a type of vishing scam that can plague online services, and Venmo is no exception. In this scam, a scammer poses as a Venmo customer support agent on the phone and requests information to “resolve an issue” or “unlock your account,” among other seemingly legitimate excuses.
Beware that the scammer may even use phone number spoofing to make it look like the call really is from Venmo.
How to avoid customer support scams:
Like many other online service providers, Venmo will call you only in rare cases, and they’ll never request personal details. So unless you already have a known issue with Venmo, better let that call go to voicemail.
You can verify any suspicious communications by contacting Veno directly, using the details provided on their website.
8. Money circle scams
Money circle scams, also known as investment scams, are “get rich quick” schemes that promise big returns for a comparatively small investment. This type of scam is not only on Venmo but also on other mobile payment apps.
This scammer could be a stranger, or appear to be someone you know (whose account or phone was likely hacked). While they promise your small contribution will turn into big bucks, you won’t get anything back.
How to avoid money circle scams:
No investment can actually guarantee a return, so never trust anyone who claims guaranteed big returns. In all likelihood, it’s too good to be true.
9. Romance scams
The advent of online dating has brought new types of romance scams. In these scams, scammers set up fake profiles and catfish their victims, showing romantic interest to win their trust. Once a relationship has been established, they ask for a Venmo transfer to cover travel costs, a gift, or other financial needs. They may even promise to pay you back.
These fraudsters often keep the scam going for as long as they can to siphon as much money as possible from you — and when you can’t pay them anymore, they simply ghost you.
How to avoid romance scams:
Don’t send money to anyone you’ve met only online. If someone continually refuses to meet in person or via video chat, that’s an immediate red flag.
In a fake website scam, a fake Venmo website is set up in order to steal your personal information, including login details and financial information. The website may be spoofed so well that at first glance, it looks like the real thing. However, upon closer inspection, there may be something off that reveals the website isn’t safe.
How to avoid fake website scams:
Check the website URL carefully to ensure that it’s legitimate, or use the Venmo app.
12. Friend in need scams
Scammers are not always strangers. Sometimes they’re friends — or more often, they pretend to be. In this scam, a scammer requests you on Venmo pretending to be a friend in need of emergency financial assistance. This could be an invented or hacked account of someone you know to trick you into trusting them.
How to avoid friend-in-need scams:
Contact your friend directly through another channel to verify that they really need your help.
Ask mutual friends if they’ve received a similar message from that friend, especially if it feels out of character.
13. Fake job scams
This kind of scam preys upon people’s desperation when searching for a job. Fake job scams can appear as personal messages or begin with fake job postings to lure victims in. In this scam, the scammer poses as a recruiter with an offer for what might sound like a really great job, often offering a high salary and the option to work from home.
Before you can start, they’ll request an upfront Venmo payment to assist with onboarding or a job placement fee. But if you send the money, you still won’t have a job and will have even less money than when you started.
How to avoid fake job scams:
Don’t agree to any job offer sent via text message. If a recruiter contacts you through a messaging app or social media site and does not provide an email address or company website, it’s probably a scam.
14. Fake check scams
While most payments are done online these days, some scammers still like to do things the old-fashioned way. In this scam, you get a fake paper check, and the scammer contacts you saying it was an accident and asks you to pay them via Venmo to even things out.
How to avoid fake check scams:
Checks can easily be canceled by the sender without them having to contact you. Never make any payments to balance checks you recieve erroneously.
15. Rental deposit scams
In this scam, a scammer posts a fake rental listing and asks you to pay them in advance via Venmo to reserve the rental. This is usually offered without a viewing, but some more elaborate ploys may include this as part of the ruse.
How to avoid rental deposit scams:
Always request a viewing or rental contract before agreeing to pay for any rental space. Even if you aren’t in the area, most actual landlords are willing to set up a virtual viewing if they’re seriously considering renting to you.
16. Purchase scams
Watch out for this scam whether you’re doing holiday shopping online or purchasing a day-to-day item. In this scam, a scammer lists a product on a site like eBay or Etsy but asks for payment via Venmo to sidestep the online marketplace’s fraud protection. Once you pay them, they ghost you and you never get the item.
How to avoid purchase scams:
When purchasing anything on sites like eBay or Etsy, only pay through these websites, as they provide fraud protection in case of undelivered or damaged goods.
Only use Venmo if it’s an authorized payment method on the site.
How to spot Venmo scams
There are some telltale patterns in the language and style used in scam messages. As long as you keep your wits about you when reading Venmo messages, you’ll likely be able to spot online scams easily.
Here are some common hallmarks of Venmo email or text scams:
A sense of urgency: The message puts pressure on you to make a decision quickly, urging you to act now or the deal will be gone forever.
Requests for personal information: A scammer may ask for personal information that they don’t need to know, often accompanied by a reason why. But no stranger needs to know anything personal about you.
Suspicious links or attachments: Quirky or overly long URLs with an unusual or foreign domain name are usually another dead giveaway that a message is a scam.
Unsolicited communication: A total stranger messages you with an offer you didn’t ask for. That offer is likely too good to be true.
Spelling and grammatical errors: Some scams are operated by non-native English speakers in other countries who target English speakers, so they may have strange spelling or grammatical errors.
How to avoid Venmo scams: 8 protection tips
In addition to knowing how to spot a Venmo scam, you can also take further steps to help prevent yourself from falling victim to a scam in the first place.
Update your Venmo privacy settings: Adjust your privacy settings on Venmo to prevent unsolicited Venmo contact or payments and to help keep potential scammers away.
Use Venmo only with people you trust: If you use Venmo only with people you know and trust, you’re unlikely to get scammed by a stranger.
Avoid accepting unsolicited payments: You can do this by blocking unknown users who try to request you and canceling any unusual transactions.
Report the scam to Venmo: Contact Venmo’s Support Team to report the scam, including screenshots of the scammer’s profile and messages, if possible.
Change your Venmo password: Change your Venmo password to prevent anyone else from accessing your account, especially if they have your old password.
Report the scam to the FTC: You can fill out a scam report online with the FTC. While this won’t get your money back, it’ll potentially help broader investigations of Venmo fraud. After all, most scammers target several victims at once, so you’re probably not the only victim.
Contact your bank or credit card company: If the scammer has access to your bank or credit card information, you’ll need to contact your bank immediately to report the scam and put temporary holds on affected accounts.
Secure your personal and financial information with Norton 360 Deluxe
Norton 360 Deluxe provides comprehensive malware and antivirus protection, helping to block fake websites set up to steal your information and monitoring the dark web* to help ensure your personal information stays private. With up to five devices covered and a 100% Virus Protection Promise**, staying safer online has never been easier. Get Norton Norton 360 Deluxe.
As an established mobile payment app, Venmo is generally safe to use. Most transactions on the site are legitimate. But as with any online platform, you need to be careful when interacting with strangers and be vigilant to avoid Venmo text and email scams going around.
Will Venmo give my money back if I’m scammed?
As an app originally created for people who know each other to share and reimburse expenses, Venmo fraud protection isn’t fullproof. Payments between personal accounts won’t be refunded, but purchases made via an authorized business or charity account may be eligible for a refund.
Is it safe to give someone your Venmo username?
While Venmo is a safe website to use, it isn’t safe to give someone you don’t know your username, as it could be used in a Venmo fraud scam. It’s recommended to keep your username to yourself for all financial accounts and any others that hold personal information.
Is Venmo safe to use with strangers?
Since Venmo is not designed to be used with strangers, you should never do business with strangers through the Venmo app. While some scammers disguise themselves as someone you know, they also use fake profiles and made-up personas when interacting with potential victims online.
*Dark Web Monitoring is not available in all countries. Monitored information varies based on country of residence or choice of plan. It defaults to monitor your email address and begins immediately. Sign in to your account to enter more information for monitoring.
**Virus Protection Promise: You must have an automatically renewing device security subscription with antivirus for the virus removal service. If we are unable to remove the virus from your device, you will be entitled to a refund based on the actual price paid for the current term of your subscription. If you have a subscription from NortonLifeLock purchased with either another offering from NortonLifeLock or a third party offering, your refund will be limited to the price of only your subscription for the current term, not to exceed the total price paid. Any refund will be net of any discounts or refunds received and less any applicable taxes, except in certain states and countries where taxes are refundable. The refund does not apply to any damages incurred as a result of viruses. See norton.com/virus-protection-promise for complete details.
Venmo is a trademark of PayPal, Inc.
Danielle Bodnar is a technology writer based in Prague, with a particular interest in digital privacy. Her work explores a variety of topics, including VPNs and how to keep your online accounts secure.
Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. Our offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about Cyber Safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses. The Norton and LifeLock brands are part of Gen Digital Inc.