CLEVELAND — The FBI and the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs issued an alert on Tuesday to northeast Ohio businesses to be on the lookout for Bitcoin ATM scams.
The Department of Consumer Affairs and FBI are sending alert signs to stores that have Bitcoin ATMs. Authorities are asking for businesses to display these signs in a “noticeable place or near the ATM.”
The FBI and Department of Consumer Affairs said that scammers are posing as utilities, police or government agencies to scare people into sending Bitcoins.
Cleveland Police said it has only garnered one report of Bitcoin scams, but it's unclear if scams of these nature are going unreported.
An FBI spokesperson shared a few examples of Bitcoin scams. Among them, scammers have called victims pretending to be from the Social Security Administration, claiming that the victim’s Social Security number was used in a crime. The scammer will request payment from the victim in order to resolve the situation.
Other instances have involved scammers claiming to be part of a police department and that the victim or a relative is on a list to be arrested. The victim is then directed to a Bitcoin ATM to transfer funds to resolve the situation.
“Education and prevention are the best tools to avoid being a victim of a financial scam,” said Bryan P. Smith, the FBI’s assistant special agent in charge. “Technology makes the world a much smaller place and fraudsters can be anywhere. 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.