Money coming soon: an inside look at popular money scams


Hamadi Belgachi

Madeline Kessler

During my sophomore year, my social media feed was flooded with invitations to join plots to rack up a quick check. It was a sensation. All the upperclassmen I followed were saying I could make money by paying them. I was too busy with my AP World notes to join, but I was certainly intrigued.

The scams I saw are a part of a greater problem: internet fraud that cost victims $1.7 billion in 2017. Fraud ranges from fake Facebook accounts of soldiers laundering hundreds from lonely middle-aged women to fake concert ticket sales. Online scams using money sending services like CashApp and Venmo are ways students at Wilson commit fraud.

One DCPS student made $700 in three weeks through a scam popular with the girls at her school, and familiar to some at Wilson. “I message guys on Tinder, then send them fake nudes of me that I find online after they Venmo me money,” she shared. Her mom was “not okay with it” and told her dad—prompting her to consider ending her career as a scammer.

One major player in the game, Ezekiel, is a professional of sorts, making a living off of scams. On a good week, he takes home a whopping $4,000. He found his choice scams of CVV and check fraud through people he knew. “CVV is embedded info on the magnetic card strip or chip and the 3 digit security code,” he shared. With this method, people buy someone’s card info and use it for Cash App, Venmo, and buying clothes. There is more money in check fraud, which is when someone cashes fake checks, explained Ezekiel.

One stunt that was very popular at Wilson was a designer clothes CashApp scheme. Students would list coveted Supreme or Gucci products on eBay or social media, and would receive payments on Cash App. They did not have clothes to sell, but would take the money, deactivate their Cash App, and make a new account. 

There’s another scam that takes the form of an Instagram or Snapchat story post, similar to the social media approach of the pyramid schemes. These, however, involve people’s personal information. These scammers announce that you should “hmp” (hit my phone) and get “a quick 3-5k” instantly, so people message them, because all banks are advertised as accepted. The scammer will get the victim’s bank card or account information and transfer money to their own account before the person’s bank can notice.

With a variety of online scams, the entrepreneurial spirit is fervent at Wilson. Advice from one scammer: “It’s some new way to make money every day—just had to stay on top of it.”