"I'm Shocked": Former Beauty Queen Loses $2,000 In 'Zelle Scam' In US

Briana Siaca said she was approached by two teen boys who said they were raising funds for their basketball team. The boys used her phone to transfer the money using the Zelle app.

'I'm Shocked': Former Beauty Queen Loses $2,000 In 'Zelle Scam' In US

Briana Siaca works in the real estate sector now.

A former beauty queen in the US has warned against a scam she fell victim to - known as a Zelle scam. According to New York Post, Briana Siaca posted a video on TikTok on Saturday in which she detailed how two teen boys conned her of $2,000 (Rs 1.66 lakh). Ms Siaca, who works in the real estate sector now, said she was sitting in Madison Square Park listening to a podcast and enjoying the day when the boys came over and said they were raising funds for their basketball team.

"They allegedly play in South Bronx and can't afford their uniforms - and they were giving me the whole spiel," said Ms Siaca, a former Miss New York USA.

"I agreed to give them some money but I didn't have any cash on me so they accepted Venmo and Zelle," she added, as per the Post report.

So she gave them her phone. The boys said they preferred Zelle and when she pulled open the app, one of them offered to put in the account number.

"He takes my phone, starts putting in his stuff. I'm talking to the other boy who's telling me all about his team, how well they've been doing and how much I would be helping and so on," Ms Siaca said.

The 29-year-old said she then realised the boy with her phone was taking a while and grabbed it back, prompting the two to thank her and quickly run away.

"I looked at my Zelle account and they sent themselves $2,000," she said.

Ms Siaca's father David called the boys "predators".

This is a very common type of scam in which people ask for donations and then siphon off money, according to New York Police.

While her bank was not able to do much, Siaca said the NYPD was "beyond helpful".

"I'm shocked. It feels kind of like a scary dream because these boys were so seemingly sweet and innocent and charming and I thought it was really brave they were going around raising money for their team," said Ms Siaca.

Zelle is a peer-to-peer network owned by seven banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. Following its launch in 2017, Zelle grew to become one of the largest US peer-to-peer payments networks by total payments.