EXETER TOWNSHIP, Pa. – The Exeter Township Police Department is warning people about a new scam in which scammers extort victims using Bitcoin ATMs.
“It’s possible you could lose up to $25,000 in one fell swoop,” said Lt. Sean Fullerton of the Exeter Township Police Department. “In the past we’ve seen them ask people to go get gift cards and read the number on the back of the gift card. Now they just send them to a Bitcoin ATM to go through that process and then give them the printed QR code.”
Police say victims can lose hundreds, even up to $25,000, in a single transaction.
Fullerton says the scammer first establishes a reason why victims need to pay.
For example, their computer was hacked or a family member is in prison. The scammer then requests payment in Bitcoin.
“Once you give that QR code, it’s over. You’ve lost your money,” Fullerton warned.
Police say it is not Bitcoin itself that is the problem, but simply the mechanism fraudsters use to access information to steal from victims.
“The best thing you can do is hang up, delete this email and not respond to these types of requests asking you to use a machine like that,” Fullerton explained.
The ETPD says it is difficult to make arrests in these cases because they often lead overseas. Fullerton says the best way to protect yourself is to try to avoid becoming a victim.
Never give out your information or pay anyone without additional verification.