CLEAVLAND – The Cuyahoga County Fraud Department and the FBI have teamed up to alert the public to a new twist on old scams. You may have heard of grandparents scams, utility bills scams and relative arrest scams, but according to officials, there is now a new way that scammers are trying to get your money.
“Now scammers are asking you to pay in bitcoin,” said Cheryl Harris, director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs.
The FBI warns that once this happens, your money will disappear.
“Unfortunately, once that money is gone, it’s almost impossible to get it back, so the best we can do is prevent it, and that’s why we are trying to report it,” said FBI Special Agent Vicki Anderson.
Signs will soon be hanging on bitcoin ATMs throughout the county. Signs are meant to make people think twice before committing to a transaction, because they could be caught cheating.
“The meaning of the signs is to give people the opportunity to stop, for example, to wait a minute,” Harris said. “The government is not going to ask you for bitcoins, they just won’t, the prison won’t ask you to pay in bitcoins, and your utility company does not accept payments in bitcoins.”
News 5 spoke to a Shaker Heights man who nearly became a victim.
“They called me, just like my son,” the man said. The caller on the other end pretends to be his son in a car crash, in jail and in need of bail.
The complex scam involved a man and his wife following instructions to withdraw $ 9,000 in cash, entering a bitcoin ATM using a QR code the scammer sent to the couple, and depositing money. All this time the fraudster remained on the phone.
“The shop owner comes up and asks:“ How can I help? “I said that we have to send money to the lawyer using this machine, and he looks like you are being deceived,” the man said.
Abe Hamed is a salesman at Shaker Quality Foods.
“I just don’t like it when people are taken advantage of,” Hamed said.
“I told him a story that the attorney told him, but he didn’t even let me know what he was doing,” Hamed said.
The couple called their son and confirmed it was a scam.
Hamed, like many other workers and shopkeepers, stepped in to help potential victims by stopping the scammers and saving them money. The authorities now hope the signs will help, too.
If you or a loved one is a victim or potential victim, the FBI wants you to report it at www.ic3.gov.
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