The bitcoin ATM scam: cases in the US
The bitcoin ATM scam: cases in the US

The bitcoin ATM scam: cases in the US

By Eleonora Spagnolo - 22 Jun 2021

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A scam using Bitcoin ATMs is circulating. It all started in the United States, in Berkeley (California), and the story was made public by the police, who collected the stories of two women who lost a total of $15,000

Both received a phone call from a person claiming to be a public safety officer in the city.

In both cases, the women who were scammed, in their 20s and 40s respectively, were told over the phone that they had arrest warrants out for them on serious charges including tax evasion, money laundering and so on. 

The two women were then instructed to stay on the phone, go to the bank, empty their bank accounts and transfer the money via Bitcoin ATMs, which they did. In one case, the victim transferred 10,000 dollars to the fraudsters, whereas in the other case, 5,000 dollars were transferred. 

In the official statement, the police said that it will be difficult to trace the money

Bitcoin-themed scams, also involving ATMs

In this case, the scammers used a technique that is also perfect for people who do not own bitcoin: they led the victims to deposit money via bitcoin ATMs, where it is possible to arrive with cash and open a bitcoin wallet, thus converting the money into BTC. But in this case, the unfortunate victims transferred their money to someone pretending to be a bailiff on the other end of the phone.

The Berkeley police deemed it appropriate to point out that law enforcement officers in case of arrest certainly do not make phone calls asking for bitcoin. It may seem obvious, but the fact that in the US this kind of scam is spreading not only in Berkeley but also in Detroit, shows that not everyone is obviously aware of it. Or they panic and prefer to pay, only to discover that there is no crime against them, but that they have been swindled. But unfortunately, it is often too late

One piece of advice remains valid: always pay attention to the source asking you to send money or bitcoin. And yes, law enforcement agencies do not ask for money. In case of doubt, always contact the police. 

Eleonora Spagnolo

Journalist passionate about the web and the digital world. She graduated with honours in Multimedia Publishing at the University La Sapienza in Rome and completed a master's degree in Web and Social Media Marketing.

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