Tax returns stolen by scammers using false customer service numbers

The I-Team is getting results after uncovering a new tax scam that could target people getting their tax refunds deposited onto apps.

ABC 7 Consumer Investigative Reporter Jason Knowles talked to a Chicago woman who had her entire tax refund cleared out- until the I-Team stepped in.

"I'm attending school. So I have student loans to pay off and I also have a daughter, so, you know, I was looking forward to my tax return," Derashia Gist told Knowles.

Gist depends on her tax return this year and she got more than $4,600 dollars back. Gist had her money automatically deposited onto "Cash App", an app to send and receive money from friends. It also has a physical card for transactions.

"The card in the wallet and the physical card never matched," claims Gist. So she Googled Cash App customer service and found an 800 number. The problem is, Cash App, like many new tech companies, does not have a customer service number with live help.

"I was speaking with a live person and he took all of my information down and then he told me the funds are on hold," says Gist. "Then I go back to my cash app and I have a completely new Cash App."

You guessed it, the person who she was talking to was fraud, using a fake "Cash App" 800 number. The next day, her $4,600 was gone.

"I was scared, I was nervous. I couldn't believe it," says Gist.

There are reports of similar incidents across the country of Cash App users finding and calling bogus toll-free numbers. Our ABC station in Philadelphia (WPVI) spoke to Judith Wilson who also Googled Cash App Customer Service, and was scammed out of $320.

"I need my money back, you know. It's not easy," Wilson told WPVI.

The I-Team contacted Cash App, which said:

We are always working to protect our customers... We remind customers that currently (1) the Cash App team generally communicates via email; (2) the email will come from a cash.app, square.com, or squareup.com address; and (3) the Cash App team will never solicit a customer's PIN or sign in code outside of the app.

And within days of our contacting Cash App, they replaced Gist's money.

"Thank you Jason, thank you so much," Gist told Knowles.

Judith Wilson got her money back too.

Cash App does have a real toll free number but it's automated, no live person to speak to. So we asked Cash App why their customers can't speak to a live person for help. Cash App said they believe they can help more customers simultaneously by email, helping by phone is too slow.

But Gist says she was getting nowhere using email.

"I kept filling out the same paperwork," says Gist. "Every time I filled out a paperwork um I would get another email from another person...Get a direct line please."

If you are using a money app, remember to never ever give out your account or personal information over the phone.

If you are looking for a customer service number, only use one you find on the company's website or app, avoid Googling it.

Cash App also has a page with advice.
Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.