The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is putting up warning signs on bitcoin ATMs in Cuyahoga County of the U.S. state of Ohio to warn residents not to fall for scams asking victims to send money to scammers via bitcoin ATMs.
FBI Putting Warning Signs on Bitcoin ATMs
The Cuyahoga County Scam Squad in Cleveland and the FBI are collaborating to alert the public about scams involving bitcoin, News 5 Cleveland reported this week. Old scams ranging from grandparent’s scam, explained Sheryl Harris, Director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs.
FBI Special Agent Vicki Anderson warned that once the victims sent bitcoin, “it’s almost impossible to get it back so the best we can do is prevention and that’s why we’re trying to get the word out.”
The news outlet described that “Signs will soon be put up on bitcoin ATMs across the county,” noting that “The signs are intended to make people think twice before going through with a transaction because they could be caught in a scam.”
The point of the signs is to just give people a chance to pause, like wait a minute … The government isn’t going to ask you for bitcoin, they just won’t, the jail won’t ask you to pay in bitcoin and your utility company doesn’t accept bitcoin payments.
The FBI and the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs issued last week an alert to local businesses to be on the lookout for bitcoin ATM scams. The authorities are asking for businesses to display these warning signs in a “noticeable place or near the ATM.”
A man who almost became a victim of a scam asking for bitcoin told the news outlet that he got a call from someone who sounded just like his son, who said he was hurt in a car accident, got thrown in jail, and needed bond money.
The man and his wife were instructed to withdraw $9,000 in cash, go to a bitcoin ATM, then use the QR code the scammer provided to deposit the cash. The man said that the shopkeeper where the ATM resided came up and said “can I help you?” When he explained that he needed to send money to an attorney with the bitcoin ATM, the shopkeeper told him that he was getting scammed. The couple then called their son and confirmed it was a scam.
Bryan P. Smith, the FBI’s assistant special agent in charge, cautioned: “Education and prevention are the best tools to avoid being a victim of a financial scam … It is imperative for consumers to verify financial transactions prior to sending money in any form, including virtual currency. Be financially safe, learn more before sending.”
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