Contact 2: St. Louis woman scammed out of tax return by phony customer service rep

ST. LOUIS – Jalessa Gray says a large portion of her more $9,000 tax refund was stolen by a scammer.

It’d be a big blow to anyone but Jalessa really needs the money. Recently homeless, Jalessa says she and her young son currently spilt their nights between a women’s shelter and a friend’s house. She planned to use the tax money to move into an apartment of their own and repair her car.

“That’s my transportation. If I lose my transportation, how am I going to keep my job?” she said.

After depositing the refund into an account with the mobile payment service Cash App she says she couldn’t access all her money at the ATM. She Googled Cash App and called what she thought was the company’s customer service line.

“When I called the number, they told me, ‘Welcome to Cash App technical support. How can I help you?’ I proceeded to tell the person what my problem was, that my card was blocked. I cannot pull any more money out, I could not use my card. He told me he could help me,” Gray said.

Jalessa says the man instructed her to install an app on her phone. Once installed, she says he took control of her screen, downloaded Cash App onto her phone and had her login to her account. Moments later, Jalessa claims her screen went blank. She started to feel uneasy.

“I checked the Cash App two or three times. The third time I checked it, that’s when I noticed that half my money was gone,” she said.

And so was the supposed customer service representative.

“When I called this number back the person picked up the phone and said, ‘Domino’s’ and I said, ‘This is not Domino’s,’” Gray said.

The Federal Trade Commission says scams like this are happening across the country.

“Tech support scams are real and they’re causing enormous consumer injury. Hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars and that’s just based on the FTC’s own law enforcement work,” said Lois Greisman, Federal Trade Commission.

Sadly, it appears Jalessa Gray’s tax refund is now part of that statistic.

“It’s not like I’m begging anybody to do anything for me. That’s what I go to work for. So for you to just take everything and not care,” Gray said.

We shared Jalessa’s story with Cash App. A representative tells us its Support Escalation team is investigating what happened. We’ll keep you posted. In a statement, Cash App said in part: “The Cash App team will never solicit a customer’s PIN or sign in code outside of the app.”

Cash App shared more information to help customers avoid phishing scams like this.

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