BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) – A Buffalo woman recently contacted 7 Problem Solvers admitting she fell for a scam that drained her retirement savings. The retired nurse did not want to be identified but said a computer pop-up prompted her to send over $43,000 to scammers via wire transfer and Bitcoin ATM.
The woman said that when she was recently at her work computer, she received a pop-up saying that her computer was locked. The fake ad, which she thought looked real, had a number for her to call. She said that when she called this number, she was told that her bank account had been hacked and the money needed to be moved.
The woman told 7 Problem Solver Michael Schwartz that she then withdrew $43,130 in cash and followed the scammers’ convincing instructions.
She transferred $13,700 to a bank in East Asia and deposited $29,430 into the Bitcoin ATM inside the Fastrac on Bailey Avenue. The Buffalo wife said she was fired from her part-time job because she gave scammers access to her work computer by accident.
“It’s a hoax,” said Kathy Stokes, AARP’s Director of Fraud Prevention. “This is organized crime. She’s facing a sophisticated criminal operation. They have the money, the time, the playbook, they have the employees and it’s us against them.”
“It’s not her fault,” added Stokes. “[Hackers] knowing what to do to put us in a highly emotional state. They call it ‘getting under the ether’. It could be fear, love, excitement.”
“If you feel excited or upset about an email, phone call or anything else, try connecting that with an ‘OK, I have to be skeptical here’ because once there it’s hard to go back,” explained Stokes, victims. to ignore these interactions.
Bank transfer has been around for a while, but how do scammers get their money through a Bitcoin ATM?
First, what is a Bitcoin ATM? It looks like a regular ATM and you can insert money to buy Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency.
Cryptocurrency – Also known as cryptocurrency, it is any form of digital or virtual currency. It uses encryption to secure transactions and is not maintained by the government or any bank. Its value has made users thousands and thousands of dollars.
Bitcoin – A form of encryption that is in a Bitcoin wallet, which is digital. The wallet can be viewed at a Bitcoin ATM.
“Bitcoin should only go to your wallet,” said Todd Maher, president of Bitsource AML Solutions. His company is a boutique consultancy that focuses on financial crime investigations involving Bitcoin ATMs.
Bitcoin ATMs have given consumers an avenue to buy Bitcoin’s hot commodity. However, just like banks, the cryptocurrency world has criminals breaking into the system.
The Buffalo wife said the scammers gave her a barcode which she scanned at the ATM. She then deposited money at the ATM, which basically went straight to the scammers’ wallet.
Maher said that at a Bitcoin ATM you can insert money and receive Bitcoin into your digital wallet. You can also send Bitcoin to the ATM and get cash back at its current value. He said there are notices on the machines to ensure consumers do not send money to third parties.
Maher said that whenever someone asks for a payment through a Bitcoin ATM, you should know: “Zero percent of the time it’s legitimate.”
The deceived woman filed a police report, but unfortunately Maher said that it is impossible to reverse a Bitcoin ATM transaction. The victim said the Bitcoin ATM transaction was traced back to Kolkata, India. She is hoping for her money back and also to help others with her story.
“There will always be scams, there will always be bad people,” Maher said. “The best thing we can do is make sure Bitcoin ATM companies are doing what they say they are doing.”
Stokes said more regulations need to be made to prevent scammers from escaping this scam. She said that scams in the digital world are becoming the newest trend for scammers.
“It’s all fake, they’re really good,” Stokes said.
For information on the latest scams in the crypto world or beyond, you can visit AARP.org/watchdogalerts
You can also call AARP at 1-877-908-3360. You don’t need to be a member.
If you’ve been a victim of a scam or need help with a consumer issue, email Michael Schwartz at 7ProblemSolvers@wkbw.com