Target Shoppers Swindled Out of Thousands of Dollars by Con Artist

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Some Target shoppers in the Atlanta area say there were scammed out of thousands of dollars after trying to do a man a favor.

After letting a man use her phone outside the Northlake Target, Colin Fite said she was swindled out of $2,500.

“You’re being a Good Samaritan, and suddenly you don’t have money to live on for the week,” said Fite. “This could really ruin somebody’s life.”

Fite said on February 9, a stranger asked to use her phone, claiming he needed to call a family member for help after experiencing car trouble. Fite said the thief made three calls and two text messages in roughly a minute. Days later, she noticed the man had transferred $2,500 to himself from her Venmo account.

“Once he had my phone number, I think Venmo uses that to connect to your profile. So he could Venmo request me using that phone number.”

Fite said a handful of other women have reached out to her with similar stories after posting about the incident on social media. Fite also reported the incident to authorities.

“He’s definitely targeting women, and women my age or younger who may have Cash App or Venmo on their phone,” said Fite.

CBS46 reported an initial instance of this crime at the Midtown Atlanta Target in November 2021.

Another victim was Alice Van Derveer. She shared a similar experience she had at the Edgewood Target. After letting a man borrow her phone inside the store, she was scammed out of more than $2,000.

“That’s rent, that’s groceries,” said Van Derveer. “I’m a graduate student, so I don’t have that money to lose.”

Fite and Van Derveer aren’t sure whether the same person is responsible for the crime. They describe the suspect as a black man in his 20’s. According to Van Derveer, the man she spoke with had neck tattoos.

A spokesperson for the company released a statement to CBS46 saying Target is aware of these schemes and is working with Atlanta police.

“At Target, we invest significantly in our team, tools, education, and industry partnerships to help keep our guests safe. We’re aware of prior attempts at Target and other Atlanta retailers to commit fraud through person-to-person payment apps, and we’ve put additional security measures in place at two stores where this activity has been reported, including increased security presence and additional cameras in the parking lot. We’re working closely with the Atlanta Police Department and will continue to provide them with what’s needed for their investigation.”

Both Fite and Van Derveer filed complaints with Venmo and got their money back.

“I don’t want to be a bitter person and not help people, but it’s really hard to help people when this happens,” said Van Derveer.



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