ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - It's getting easier and easier to pay for things with an app. There are a lot of them out there.
Listen, I rely on these payment apps myself. This I how I pay sitters, sell things online, or repay friends. But for pricey purchases to strangers, you might want to slow down before you hit 'pay.'
Brian Cartee learned the hard way and is telling his tale after he was taken for thousands of dollars trying to get concert tickets.
"On the day of the concert on January 10 we decided to look into getting tickets," he told the FOX 5 I-Team.
He bought tickets from Craigslist, a classified ads website. The seller had a 404 number. He even spoke with the seller.
"They said a family event came up and they had to, ya know, they weren't going to be able to go."
He got a texted copy of the ticket receipt, so he made the purchase through Cash App. But the tickets never came and communication stopped.
"He blocked my number and I was never able to reach him at all. Immediately, within like 30 seconds.
Brian figured his bank would handle the loss, so he decided to try to buy another pair of tickets.
"I didn't think everybody on there would be a scam," he said.
This time Brian paid through his Zelle Pay app. Guess what? Yep. It happened again. He was out another couple a hundred bucks. Now, to be clear, most ads on Craigslist are legitimate. That's why it's so popular. But, sadly, Brian had bad luck that was about to get worse. He was taken again, and again and again.
Brian googled Cash App customer service. He wanted to file a complaint. What he didn't realize is this number he found doesn't belong to the peer-to-peer payment app. If he'd looked more closely he would have seen it's attached to an unrelated website. The FOX 5 I-Team tried calling the number. We left a message.
But they did talk to Brian. They asked him, he said, to put an email address that they gave him into his Cash App account. He did.
"By me putting in the email address they gave me, they took control of my app, and then sent money to someplace," he said regretfully.
Before he caught it, scammers had dipped into his checking account three times to the tune of thousands of dollars.
"Seven thousand seven hundred dollars in two days and it snowballed into a nightmare."
His bank denied his fraud claim, so he called the FOX 5 I-Team.
"They saw it different after I got FOX 5 I-Team investigates involved."
We showed the bank this from the FTC: If someone makes unauthorized transactions with your debit card number, but your card is not lost, you are not liable for those transactions if you report them within 60 days ...." Brian got all but a few hundred bucks back. And walked away wanting to impart a few things he's learned....
"Stop while you're ahead," his is the first point.
He should've explored the first scam before jumping into another transaction. And here's a statement from Cash App: their team "generally communicates via email." And that email will come from "cash.app," "square.com" or "squareup.com" And, they will "never solicit" your "sign in code." And finally.....
"Don't use a debit card, use a credit card. Meet people face-to-face," Brian Cartee told us.
These payment apps work best when you are getting money to trusted folks like friends and family. A purchase that involves larger amounts of money going to a stranger, it gets trickier. That's when payPal might be your best bet. Paypal also offers purchase protection coverage when you use its business service.