The Better Business Bureau Upstate New York has a message – don’t send money to fake Venmo friends.

The BBB is issuing a scam alert involving the social payments service.

Here’s how the scam works:

Scammers are taking advantage of generous friends by changing their usernames and profile pictures to impersonate real app users.

Using the information visible in Venmo's public feed,, they figure out from whom this person had previously sent or received money from.

Then, the scammers contact these users with requests for money.

The BBB says the scam is just one of many cons using digital wallets apps, such as PayPal, Venmo, and Apple Pay.

But they say unlike credit cards, many digital wallet vendors will not shoulder the cost of fraud. If you pay scammers using a digital wallet, you may not be successful in getting the company to reimburse you.

Here are some tips to protect yourself from being a Venmo scam victim:

  • Double-check with your friend before sending cash. If you get an unusual request, call or text your friend to confirm their story. If you can’t reach them, you can also tap on their Venmo profile to view their public transaction history and information.
  • Keep your transactions private. Scammers use the information visible in Venmo’s public feed to find targets. By keeping your transactions private, you reduce your risk of being targeted by scammers. Here’s the privacy setting information from Venmo.
  • Use money transfer with friends. Protect yourself from scams by only using money transfer apps for their intended purpose -- sending money to people you personally know.
  • Enable additional security settings. Check your account settings to see if you can turn on additional security measures, such as multi-factor authentication, requiring a PIN, or using fingerprint recognition like Touch ID.
  • Link your money transfer app to a credit card. As with many other purchases, using a credit card will help protect you if you don't get the goods or services you paid for. Linking to a debit card or directly to your bank account does not give you that added protection.

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