Venmo to Reimburse Hacking Victims

Mobile payment service Venmo has come to the aid of a couple from Florida whose entire bank account was emptied by hackers.

Cyber-thieves stole $19,500 from retired husband and wife Alan and Aviva Sturm earlier this year. The hackers gained access to the couple's Bank of America bank accounts by creating a fraudulent Venmo account.

The hackers reportedly stole the funds from the Sturms' bank account through a series of illegal transfers that began in March and carried on until June. The sum of $1,500 was taken every week until every cent of the couple's savings was gone.

The couple from Boynton Beach discovered the theft when their rent payment bounced.  They contacted Bank of America and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office but were unable to recover any of the money.

Aviva told local news source WDSU that before the theft occurred, they hadn't heard of Venmo and had no idea what it was. 

"We're going around asking people if they've ever heard of Venmo, and a lot of people have, but we've never heard of it," she said.

Because of the change in their financial circumstances, Alan and Aviva, who both have heart problems, had to cancel their secondary medical insurance and downsize their accommodations at an assisted living facility to a one-bedroom apartment.  

Alan, who is 74, said: "It was just a matter of time until we ended up in the street."

Bank of America told the Sturms that it couldn't return any of the stolen money because it had been told by Venmo that the couple had authorized the transfers. 

Venmo, which is owned by PayPal, said that the company will reimburse the Sturms for the whole amount stolen. An investigation into how the hackers were able to create a fake account and get the fraudulent transfers authorized is ongoing. 

A spokesperson for Venmo said: “When we were contacted about the situation, we worked quickly to investigate the matter and assist our customers. We take every instance of potential fraud very seriously, and the company works diligently to support and protect our customers.”

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