Laura Grasso, a resident of the Upper East Side, was scammed out of $1,000 after helping two “lost” children who came to her for assistance.
While enjoying a day in Central Park last month, the two young scammers approached her, insisting they were lost and asked to borrow her phone to call their mom.
Being a helpful individual, Grasso handed over her phone to the impersonators. Still, instead of calling home, they located her Venmo app to send $1,000 to a business account labeled “Black Lives Matter.“
“These thieves are getting really f—ing savvy.” Grasso, 29, told The Post.
The account named “@BLM201” described itself as a “fun raising business” and has since been removed from the transfer fund app.
Since Grasso’s encounter, there have been 14 private transactions that transpired, and the account holder was located in Jersey City, according to the address button on its Venmo page, The Post reports.
The account does not appear affiliated with the Black Lives Matter organization, which didn’t immediately respond to inquiries from the publication.
Grasso received an email moments after the two lost children used her phone, later notifying her of the wired transaction.
“I was in complete shock – utter disbelief,” Grasso said. “Then I got scared because what if it wasn’t just Venmo? What else could they have done on my phone?”
Grasso reported her incident on July 30. to the 19th Precinct on East 67th Street, police revealed her case was the third one that day, as other people said they were tricked by a pair of minors who made a way into the victim’s Venmo accounts.
The next day, Grasso went to the Central Park Precinct, where police felt she was ultimately responsible for handing her phone over to strangers and refused to file a report. Eventually, authorities filed a petty larceny report.
“They told me, ‘You gave them your phone. It’s your fault. Why would you let a stranger use your phone?’” she said. “I definitely felt very unseen.” where she was met with little interest in her case by police officers.
Venmo shared the phone number associated with the page belonged to a person named “Lache,” and they canceled the transaction on top of refunding Grasso a few days later.
“Thank God I got it back. It sucks to have that much taken from you,” she said. “It’s not like I splurged and went out shopping or bought a round of drinks for everyone in the bar. It was stolen from me.”
“We take the security and privacy of all Venmo users and their information very seriously,” a Venmo spokesperson said.
The app has additional security features for users to activate, such as face and touch recognition to keep accounts secure even if someone steals their phone.
An investigation is still currently ongoing to find the two children scammers.