A woman was shopping for Thanksgiving at a Whole Foods in Johns Creek, Georgia, on Wednesday when a man approached her and asked to use her cellphone to call his mom.
She obliged, and police said he tried to steal thousands of dollars from her.
Romel Slay was arrested after allegedly using Julie Grant’s phone to open her Venmo app and send $2,500 from her account to someone else’s phone, WSB reported.
“I was very skeptical and he knew that,” Grant said. “He pulled out a huge wad of cash and said, ‘I’m not going to take anything from you. I don’t need anything, obviously.’”
Grant told the news station he made a quick call, turned the phone in a way where she couldn’t see it and then handed it back. She saw an alert on her smart watch that someone had used Venmo to remove $2,500 from her bank account shortly after she got her phone back.
WSB reported that Slay is accused of going up to a different woman and trying to do the same thing, but she didn’t give him her phone.
Grant, realizing she had been scammed, yelled for people to stop Slay, and he was tackled by customers until Johns Creek police arrived at the Whole Foods at 5945 State Bridge Road, the news station reported.
Venmo is one of many apps that allows you to send and request money from friends and strangers who also have the app. Many banks and credit cards also have apps that allow for wire transfers of certain amounts.
The easiest way to protect yourself from someone using your phone to send themselves money using these apps is to have a password, facial ID or fingerprint lock enabled to enter the app or make a transaction, Johns Creek police Capt. Chris Bryers said.
“One of the easiest things that you can do is make sure there’s a password or some type of facial ID or thumbprint on your app, and when you’re done using the app, close the app out,” Bryers told WSB.
To update your security settings within Venmo, go to settings, look under security and there will be options to turn on Touch ID and a PIN code.
Bryers told the news station her bank refunded her the money a day after the incident.
Slay faces a charge of theft by taking. He was released from the Fulton County Jail after posting a $2,500 bond, according to jail records.
Bryers said police are searching to find out to whom Slay allegedly sent the money.
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