‘Nearly impossible to trace’ - Michigan couple loses $350,000 in bitcoin ATM scam
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (WILX) - Detectives at a Michigan sheriff’s office say a new fraud report comes across their desks every day, but the most recent one is the largest they have seen when it comes to money lost. More than a third of a million dollars was taken from an elderly Michigan couple.
Detectives at the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office said an elderly Grand Traverse County couple is out $350,000 in a fraud case they described as “nearly impossible to trace.”
Lt. Brandon Brinks worked on the case for the Grand Traverse Sheriff’s Department.
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“It’s frustrating to lose money, but it’s also when you see people taken advantage of it’s difficult to watch,” Brinks said.
He added that $350,000 is the highest amount he’s ever seen. He says the couple made multiple withdraws from different banks in order to transfer money to coin flip, an ATM that used bitcoin.
“We’re getting money sent through Western Union wires and Green Dot cards and Walmart gift cards,” Brinks said. “There’s just there’s no end to the way that people find to have money transferred once you withdraw it from your bank.”
As the investigation continues, detectives have not been able to figure out how the physical cash was able to be transferred through coin flip.
“Because of the lack of documentation, the lack of paperwork that we have, there’s really no way for us to trace that money once it’s gone,” Brinks said. “And currently they are out that money.”
Brinks says it all started with an alert on the couples computer with a message to call a number.
“What they believed was Apple support, ended up not being Apple support,” Brinks said. “It was a unknown person from an unknown place.”
Lieutenant Brinks says, to prevent being scammed, you should always call a business directly from a number listed on their website.
One of the biggest indicators that something is a scam is if they try to prevent the caller from hanging up and calling back.
Brinks said, “If you say okay, well let me check into this, I’ll call you back, and they say ‘don’t hang up with me.’ It’s a scam.”
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