Man almost lost more than $2,000 after lending cellphone to stranger

CHARLOTTE — An unexpecting victim nearly lost more than $2,000 to a scammer in the blink of an eye after he let the person use his cellphone.

Ryan Bauer was at his apartment complex, walking to his car, when a man asked to use his phone.

“As I walked by him, he said, ‘Hey, can I borrow your phone?’” Bauer told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke. “He said he was meeting somebody here (and that) he didn’t have his phone on him.”

Bauer said he was suspicious, but he let the man use his phone anyway.

“I said, ‘OK, use my phone’ and I went to my car. So, I had my back turned … which is my fault,” he said. “It wasn’t until I got in my car and got five to seven minutes down the road that I realized what he had just done.”

Bauer said the man used his Venmo app to send about $2,200 to himself.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have been warning people about this scam recently. Police said they’ve had a number of reports and mention PayPal, Venmo and Zelle specifically. They said it can be difficult to resolve these cases.

“It just never dawned on me,” Bauer said.

Bauer told Stoogenke that, luckily, his bank rejected the transaction, but he did learn a valuable lesson.

Police suggest that if you have to help someone, call the number they need to reach yourself and put the phone on speaker for them. Whatever you do, do not let a stranger use your phone.

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