FAIRFIELD – Chief Robert Kalamaras and the Fairfield Police Department would like to inform members of the community of a Bitcoin scam circulating around Fairfield and share tips to help residents avoid falling victim to similar scams.
On Tuesday, November 22, the Fairfield Police Department received a report from a resident that she sent $7,000 in Bitcoin currency to an unknown account before realizing it was a scam. .
The resident said she received a call from an unknown man claiming to work for an online retailer’s fraud department. He said fraud was detected on her account and informed her that she should transfer her money to a bitcoin account. The resident was then allegedly “transferred” to the Federal Trade Commission where she spoke to an officer who sent her pictures of their alleged credentials.
The resident received another call from a woman posing as a Fairfield police officer who advised the resident to do as instructed. The number used by the individual claiming to be an officer impersonated the Fairfield Police Department number and had a Fairfield Police caller ID.
The callers then demanded the resident send them a photo of her driver’s license and empty her bank accounts, alleging they were compromised. The resident then withdrew money from her accounts and deposited the money in a Bitcoin ATM at a location given to her by the callers. The resident was also ordered to withdraw $20,000 from her retirement accounts.
The resident was able to suspend withdrawal from her retirement accounts and contacted the state Department of Motor Vehicles to change her license number, however, the bitcoin money that was deposited is unlikely to ever be recovered. Residents should note that Bitcoin is an encrypted virtual currency and transactions are anonymous.
The Fairfield Police Department would like to warn residents who may receive similar calls not to send money and to report the call immediately to the Fairfield Police Department at 203-254-4800.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers the following four signs to help people recognize possible scams:
- The scammers claim to belong to an organization you know. They can use a real name, like the Social Security Administration, IRS, or Medicare, or make up a name that sounds official. Some claim to be from a company you know, such as a utility company, tech company, or even a charity asking for donations.
- Scammers say there is a problem or a price. They might say you’re in trouble with the government, you owe money, a family member has had an emergency, or there’s a virus on your computer. Some scammers say there is a problem with one of your accounts and you need to verify some information. Others will lie and say that you won money in a lottery or a contest, but you have to pay a fee to get it.
- Scammers push you to act immediately. They might tell you not to hang up so you can’t check their story. They might threaten to arrest you, sue you, revoke your driver’s license or business license, or deport you. They might say that your computer is about to be corrupted.
- Scammers tell you to pay in a specific way. They often insist that you pay by sending money through a money transfer company or putting money on a gift card and then giving them the number on the back. Some will send you a check (which later turns out to be fake), tell you to deposit it, and then send them money.
Fairfield Police also remind residents that legitimate organizations do not request payment by gift card, prepaid debit card or money transfer service. This should be a significant red flag. Prepaid debit cards and gift cards are not legitimate ways to pay for goods and services. They cannot be traced and once the funds have been transferred, the money cannot be recovered.
Additionally, residents are reminded never to give out personal information, especially social security, bank account, or credit card numbers.
The FTC also recommends that if you receive an email or text message from a company you do business with that you believe is real, it’s always best not to click on any links. Instead, contact them using a website you know is trustworthy or look up their phone number. Do not call a number they gave you or your caller ID number.
Report any type of scam or suspected fraud at ftc.gov/complaint, or call the toll-free number: 1-877-FTC-HELP. For more information on scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission website or the state website.