Google Wallet is a handy feature that allows you to store all of your loyalty shopper cards in one virtual place, make purchases online via stored credit and debit cards and even send money securely to friends and family. While using the app, all of your financial information is protected and encrypted and the Google Wallet Purchase Protection covers 100% of eligible unauthorized Google Wallet transactions.
While this Google feature is both popular and useful, the feature has been exploited recently by scammers hoping to steal money from unsuspecting users by creating fraudulent invoices that look similar to Google Wallet Checkout invoices.
A typical scam might look like this: You are looking to purchase a used car and find one online for an exceptionally good price (almost too-good-to-be-true?). You contact the seller (the scammer) and he or she suggests that you use Google Wallet to make the purchase because it will be protected. Next, they send you a fake invoice which looks like a Google Checkout invoice, instructing you how much to pay and how to make the payment. However, the transaction is fraudulent and has nothing to do with Google Checkout. The invoice will instruct you to make a payment often via Western Union, MoneyGram or bank transfer. The reality is that there is no car, you are not using Google Wallet and the scammer succeeds in stealing your money.
Here are some important red flags regarding the Google Wallet scam:
- Google Checkout currently supports payments made by credit or debit cards only. If a seller suggests you pay via wire or bank transfer with your Checkout account, don’t proceed with the transaction; it’s likely fraudulent.
- Scammers may reference certain terms such as “Verified Google Checkout Agent,” “Regional Manager,” “Purchase Protection Account,” or some other form of escrow account in their spoofed invoice. None of these terms are used on Checkout.
- Scammers may request high dollar transactions to be broken down into smaller payments, sometimes with each payment going to a different person.
- The price of the goods you are interested in purchasing seems too-good-to-be-true, or the seller claims to have the new hot item that is sold out everywhere else.
If you received a fake Google Checkout invoice, you may wish to file a report with the appropriate authorities and/or your regional fraud reporting center — such as the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov), a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center. For more information on the Google Wallet purchasing scam, please see this post on the Google website.
Additionally, if you think you’ve encountered a scam involving a fraudulent Google Wallet transaction, complete this form to provide information to Google.