If you ever come across a guy named “Andy Mai” on Facebook Marketplace or Venmo, stay away from him. According to The Verge, Mai is a Los Angeles-based scammer who has ostensibly robbed $25,000 USD worth of expensive camera gear from four users on the social media bazaar using the popular payment services app.
How did he get away with it? Mai used a strange payment strategy on Venmo which consists of sending a string of small monetary installments to the seller. The unassuming sellers would receive the payments and then hand off their precious and pricey gear to the scammer. Moments after the transactions, however, Venmo would cancel the transfers and apply a ban to the sellers’ accounts. The reason being is that the app doesn’t permit users to receive cash for items. What’s worse, Mai reportedly paid the sellers using stolen financial accounts.
One victim who goes by the name Rasa received a total of “52 total transactions, each under $100 USD” from Mai. “I wasn’t a merchant,” Rasa explained to the website. “I’m not in the camera-selling business. This is the first camera I’ve sold in six months.” The camera in question is a Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K which Rasa priced at $1,500 USD.
Only four sellers were confirmed to have been scammed by Mai, but upwards to 20 people may have also been robbed. If true, the losses could amount to a hefty $100,000 USD. Moral of the story: don’t accept staggering payment transfers on Venmo and the minute you suspect fraudulent activity, be sure to contact customer service immediately through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 855-812-4430.