Retired Nurse Loses Life Savings in Bitcoin ATM Scam
A computer pop-up ad caused a retired nurse in Buffalo, New York, to lose more than $43,000 and her part-time job.
The woman, who did not want to be identified, said she was on her work computer when she encountered a pop-up ad saying her computer was locked and had a phone number for her to call. When she made the call, the person on the other end said that her bank credentials had been compromised, and she needed to move the money to shield it from would-be thieves.
The scammer convinced her to withdraw her total cash balance of $43,130. She then wired $13,700 to a bank in East Asia and deposited the remaining $29,430 into a bitcoin ATM, which converts your cash to cryptocurrency and moves it into a digital wallet — typically your own, but the scammers had hacked the ATM, sending the woman’s cash straight into their wallet.
In addition to her entire savings, the woman said she lost her part-time job. Her employer fired her because she inadvertently gave scammers access to her work computer.
“It’s a travesty,” said Kathy Stokes, AARP’s Director of Fraud Prevention. “This is organized crime. She is up against a sophisticated criminal operation. They got the money, the time, the playbook, they have employees and it’s us against them.”
The woman has filed a police report, but unfortunately, bitcoin ATM transactions are irreversible.