Police: Man used Johns Creek shopper’s phone to steal $2.5K from her Venmo

Romel Slay

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Romel Slay

A woman was Thanksgiving shopping at a Whole Foods in Johns Creek on Wednesday when a man approached her and asked to use her cellphone to call his mother.

She obliged, and police said he returned the favor by trying to steal thousands of dollars from her.

Romel Slay of Lithonia was arrested after allegedly using Julie Grant’s phone to open her Venmo app and send $2,500 from her account to someone else’s phone, Channel 2 Action News reported.

“I was very skeptical and he knew that,” Grant told Channel 2. “He pulled out a huge wad of cash and said, ‘I’m not going to take anything from you. I don’t need anything, obviously.’”

 

Grant told the news station that Slay made a quick call, turned the phone in a way where she couldn’t see it and then handed it back. She saw an alert on her smart watch that someone had used Venmo to remove $2,500 from her bank account shortly after she got her phone back.

Slay is then accused of approaching a different woman and trying to do the same thing, but she didn’t give him her phone, Channel 2 reported.

Grant, realizing she had been scammed, yelled for people to stop Slay, and he was tackled by customers until Johns Creek police arrived at the store on State Bridge Road, the news station reported.

Venmo is one of many apps that allows you to send and request money from friends and strangers who also have the app. Many banks and credit cards also have apps that allow for wire transfers of certain amounts.

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Within Venmo's settings is an option to enable Touch ID and a PIN number to be entered before someone can access the app. (Photo: Venmo)

Within Venmo's settings is an option to enable Touch ID and a PIN number to be entered before someone can access the app. (Photo: Venmo)

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Within Venmo's settings is an option to enable Touch ID and a PIN number to be entered before someone can access the app. (Photo: Venmo)

The easiest way to protect yourself from someone using your phone to send themselves money using these apps is to have a password, facial ID or fingerprint lock enabled to enter the app or make a transaction, Johns Creek police Capt. Chris Byers said.

“One of the easiest things that you can do is make sure there’s a password or some type of facial ID or thumbprint on your app, and when you’re done using the app, close the app out,” Byers told Channel 2.

To update your security settings within Venmo, go to settings, look under security and there will be options to turn on Touch ID and a PIN code.

Byers told the news station that Grant’s bank refunded her the money a day after the incident.

Slay faces a charge of theft by taking. He bonded out of the Fulton County Jail for $2,500, according to records.

Byers said police are searching to find out to whom Slay allegedly sent the money.

In other news:

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Cobb County police confirmed to Channel 2 Action News that a man was in the process of breaking into a car when the homeowner came out and confronted him.