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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > November 2015 > Scam Alert: Beware When Using Mobile Payment Apps

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Scam Alert: Beware When Using Mobile Payment Apps

Imagine having tickets for an upcoming concert or sporting event, but realizing at the last minute you aren’t able to go. After trying unsuccessfully to sell to someone you know, you post the tickets for sale online.
A potential buyer contacts you immediately. The only problem is that the buyer says he can’t withdraw funds from the bank or the ATM to cover the cost, so he suggests using a reputable mobile banking payment app to pay you.
You agree to send him the tickets and to receive payment using the mobile payment app. The buyer sends a payment transfer request through email using the app. You open the email, accept the funds, and then give away the tickets. A few days later, you receive an email stating the payment transfer was cancelled due to insufficient funds in the buyer’s account. You realize you gave away the tickets and received nothing in return.
Scammers are using a loophole in some mobile payment apps to trick buyers into sending their items before the scammer’s payment has cleared. In this scenario, the scammer initially transferred enough money into the account to send a payment transfer request to the seller. However, since the transfer did not occur in “real time,” the scammer was able to obtain the tickets and then withdraw the money from the account before the funds actually transferred. As a result, the funds did not clear, and you are left without your money or your tickets.  
Attorney General DeWine offers the following tips for avoiding such scams:
  • Never conduct business using mobile payment apps with people you don’t know.
  • Before giving away the product or service, be sure the funds have officially cleared.
  • Contact the bank’s customer service number to report suspicious activity related to its mobile payment apps.
If you suspect a scam or unfair business practice, report it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by calling 800-282-0515 or visiting