7 On Your Side: Video shows candy kids pulling off newest scam

Nina Pineda Image
Tuesday, May 9, 2023
Video shows candy kids pulling off newest scam
Two teens selling candy and asking for donations via Venmo or Zelle are accused of draining a victim's bank account in NYC. Nina Pineda has 7 On Your Side.

SOHO, Manhattan (WABC) -- If you're like a lot of us with a sweet tooth and a generous heart, you might have bought a chocolate bar from kids raising money for their school sports team.

But 7 On Your Side has a crime, caught on camera, of a candy quickie. The suspects allegedly suckered a woman into handing over her cellphone for a donation, then drained her bank account dry.

We are used to handing our phones over to follow new friends on social media or get someone's digits. The problem is our cellphones hold the keys to our bank accounts.

Since we are linked to cash apps, passing off your phone is like leaving your front door open for anyone to walk in. This victim says she had $1,800 stolen in 60 seconds.

"It's really sad and it's really disheartening," said scam victim Alejandra. "I couldn't understand what had happened."

Alejandra was sipping tea at a SoHo café when surveillance video shows two young teens enter and beeline right for their target.

"They were selling candy, you could either buy candy or just donate," she said.

She didn't have cash or want the candy, but the kids said they would take a donation via Venmo or Zelle.

"So I thought about it for a minute and I said, 'sure I can donate a little bit through Zelle,' Then, I asked what their phone number was because I don't know how to send them the money," Alejandra said.

That's when the sour swindle started. The candy kid slyly asked for Alejandra's cellphone.

"They told me they can enter the phone number themselves, so I give them the phone," she said.

Alejandra entered $5 and sent it via Zelle from her Bank of America checking account.

"Later I go to the grocery store and realize all my money is gone," Alejandra said.

The kids managed to take $1,800 from her checking account when they had her phone.

Alejandra said the phone was already open to the Zelle app but it only took them a minute to send the money.

"It was a minute," she said. "They had done all of that then gave the phone back for me to donate to them."

Alejandra still gave them a $5 donation because there was no sign that anything wrong had happened in that time.

The two back-to-back transactions went to a young woman she tracked down in Jersey City.

That person's father told 7 On Your Side his daughter is a victim too and was used as a middleman to receive the Zelle and forward it to someone else.

Alejandra filed a police report hours after the inicident and tried to get a refund through her bank.

She feels she should get her money back since she has video proof of getting scammed. But Zelle and most banks, including Bank of America, do not offer protection if customers somehow enable or authorize payment.

After 7 On Your Side got involved, Alejandra was told BOA reopened her case and will complete the investigation within three weeks.

The big takeaway is:

-Don't hand your phone over

-Don't send money to strangers

-Never respond to texts, emails, or calls or Share Codes

-Always contact your bank directly

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