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Teen falls for ‘sugar baby’ scam on Snapchat via Zelle: Here’s what parents and teens need to know

By Michael Finney and Randall Yip

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    DANVILLE, California (KGO) — A young boy’s curiosity about the opposite sex coupled with his love for social media and the speed of the Zelle money app turned out to be a costly combination. Here’s how an offer to be a “sugar baby” cost him thousands of dollars.

“Hello, there. Will you be like my sugar baby?,” “Errina Angels” asked the 17 year old, who we agreed not to identify.

“I’m willing to pay you $500 as allowance on a weekly basis if you’re willing,” she said over Snapchat.

“Yes, I’m down,” the boy replied.

Janet Mondani of Danville read a conversation between her son and a woman who went by the name of Errina Angels.

She said the two talked about everything from holidays to family.

“‘Yeah, I’m not asking for too much. Not any sexual activity. Just online companionship,”‘ Mondani said, reading from the Snapchat thread.

Angels instructed the teen to deposit two checks into his Wells Fargo account. He could keep $500 for himself and then donate the rest.

Mondani says her son became skeptical.

‘”Why do I have to donate? Why couldn’t your accountant just donate? It makes no sense,”‘ the thread continued.

“‘He works for my dad before I took over. He’s family. He’s been with the family for decades. I trust him and I would really like you to do the same as well. You have a problem with that or are you still doubting?”‘ Angels responded.

Her son agreed to the plan.

Angels’s accountant sent him two checks via email. One for $4,000, the other for $4,500.

She said the boy could keep $500, but deposit the rest into his account and then use Zelle to send the money to make a donation on his behalf.

“The fact that this money went out the window so quickly. I was just like, holy cow,” said Mondani.

Her son zelled the money, but then checks he deposited had bounced.

“Hey, why is all my money gone?” Janet’s son asked Angels.

“Sorry dear. Can you please exercise some patience? It’s an issue with my accountant officer,” she replied. “I’m really sorry dear. I promise to make it up to you?”

Mondani wants to know why Zelle didn’t send her a warning notifying her that a new recipient had been added to the Zelle account, since she’s the custodian.

Early Warning Services, LLC, which owns Zelle, told 7 on Your Side an “alert may go to one person, depending on how the account is set up.”

“Where did this Zelle money go? What account did the Zelle money go to? Why can’t they do research and find out?” Mondani asked.

She also wants to know why Wells Fargo didn’t notify her of unusual activity on the account.

Wells Fargo told 7 On Your Side: “It can take weeks for a bank to confirm a bad check after it’s deposited and you may be out the amount of the check and any money sent to the scammer.”

Mondani said the bank declined to refund the lost money because her son authorized it.

“He is just a kid. We’re supposed to protect our children,” Mondani said. “Wells Fargo should have something in place where they think, well, this looks very odd that this transaction just occurred in this teen account.”

We’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating. Unlike credit transactions, there are no federal protections currently in place to refund consumers in the event of fraud — so be careful.

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