Chief Robert Kalamaras and the Fairfield Police Department would like to inform community members of a Bitcoin scam circulating around Fairfield and share tips to help residents avoid falling victim to any similar scams.
On Tuesday, Nov. 22, the Fairfield Police Department received a report from a resident stating that she had sent $7,000 in Bitcoin currency to an unknown account prior to realizing it was a scam.
The resident stated that she had received a call from an unknown male claiming to work for the fraud department of an online retailer. He stated that fraud was detected on her account and informed her that she would have to transfer her money to a Bitcoin account. The resident was then purportedly “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 what was asked of her. The number used by the individual claiming to be an officer spoofed the Fairfield Police Department’s number and had a Fairfield Police caller ID.
The callers then instructed the resident to send them a photo of her driver’s license and empty her bank accounts, alleging they were compromised. The resident then took money out of her accounts and deposited the money into a Bitcoin ATM at a location given to her by the callers. The resident was also instructed to withdraw $20,000 from her retirement accounts.
The resident was able to pause the withdrawal from her retirement accounts and contacted the state Department of Motor Vehicles to change her license number, however, it is unlikely the Bitcoin money that was deposited will ever be recovered. Residents should note that Bitcoin is a virtual encrypted currency and that transactions are anonymous.
The Fairfield Police Department would like to warn residents who may receive any similar calls to not send any money and immediately report the call 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:
- Scammers pretend to be from an organization you know. They might use a real name, like the Social Security Administration, the IRS, or Medicare, or make up a name that sounds official. Some pretend to be from a business you know, like a utility company, a tech company, or even a charity asking for donations.
- Scammers say there’s a problem or prize. They might say you’re in trouble with the government, that you owe money, that someone in your family had an emergency, or that there’s a virus on your computer. Some scammers say there’s a problem with one of your accounts and that you need to verify some information. Others will lie and say you won money in a lottery or sweepstakes but have to pay a fee to get it.
- Scammers pressure you to act immediately. They might tell you not to hang up so you can’t check out their story. They might threaten to arrest you, sue you, take away your driver’s or business license, or deport you. They might say 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 by putting money on a gift card and then giving them the number on the back. Some will send you a check (that will later turn out to be fake), tell you to deposit it, and then send them money.
Fairfield Police also remind residents that legitimate organizations do not ask for payment by a gift card, pre-paid debit card or money transfer service. This should be a significant red flag. Pre-paid debit cards and gift cards are not legitimate ways to pay for goods and services. They cannot be traced, and once funds are transferred, the money cannot be recovered.
Additionally, residents are reminded to never give out their personal information, especially Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers.
The FTC also recommends that if you get an email or text message from a company you do business with and you think it’s real, it’s still best not to click on any links. Instead, contact them using a website you know is trustworthy, or look up their phone number. Don’t call a number they gave you or the number from your caller ID.
Report any type of suspected scam or fraud at ftc.gov/complaint, or call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP. For more information about scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website or the state’s website.