Zelle scams on the rise

Chris Bluvshtein is a cybersecurity journalist who has completely given up on posting anything for sale online or on an app because he says it's too risky.

Scams are growing more and more prevalent and sadly, they work.

"Unfortunately, people do fall for these kinds of things quite often," says Bluvshtein, who often writes about cybersecurity issues for VPNOverview.com. 

The latest landscape for con artists appears to be the cash transfer platform Zelle.

"It's basically a way to send money to somebody else," he said. 

Zelle is similar to Venmo or PayPal with one key difference.

"Zelle doesn't have any way to get money back after you've done a transaction," he says. "It's really very much like handing cash over to another party."

When it leaves your bank account, it's gone for good.


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Justin Cappos is a computer science expert at NYU Tandon School of Engineering who says more often scammers are turning to Facebook marketplace to extract money from people selling items online.

Scammers will tell a seller they're interested and that they’re immediately ready to pay, but— here’s the catch-- they ask the seller to first upgrade their Zelle account.

"There is actually no way to do that," Cappos says. "There is no upgraded membership inside of Zelle."

They'll send a link hoping the seller clicks it and makes a purchase, and then the scammer gets the money.

So keep your eye out for the red flags.

"If the money is supposed to flow one direction, and they're asking you to do it the other way, then there's clearly something wrong going on here," Cappos says.