The Portland Police Department issued a warning Monday regarding an extortion scheme scammers are using to take people’s money using Bitcoin ATM machines.
The scam, according to Portland Police, begins with the fraudsters sending their victims “urgent, fear-evoking messages with pop-up windows on PCs, emails and texts” that falsely inform the victim their personal information has been compromised.
The scammers then tell their victims that there is a billing or payment issue with a common third party the victim may have dealing with, such as PayPal or Amazon, the police explained.
“Something to do with child pornography on their computer,” the Portland PD said.
The victim is then directed by the scammer to call a fake number, at which point they will be instructed to move their money to a “safe account” while their account is being investigated.
“In the most recent cases, the scammers are giving specific directions to deposit withdrawn cash into a local Bitcoin ATM—as a result, the funds go directly into the scammer digital wallet and are never accessible again,” the police said Monday.
“Remember, these scammers can be convincing, and use fear, urgency and scare tactics to get you to comply,” they said. “If you receive this warning via a Pop-up banner on your computer, in an email or text message, do not call the number provided on the screen.”
The Portland Police Department is advising individuals who think they may be a victim of a fraud to take the following steps to avoid losing more of their money, and to avoid future scams:
- Stop all communication with the scammer
- Stop making any major financial decisions until your accounts are secured
- Gather all records you have of the scam
- Notify your financial institution and other companies where you have an account that may have been affected
- Change all your passwords to your accounts, including social media sites
- Protect your devices that you use to communicate with the scammer, such as your computer, laptop, tablet, and cellphone
- Ensure security or operating software on your device is up-to-date
- Install anti-spyware protection on your computer
- Perform a virus scan of your hard drive and files
- Do not send your personal, credit card or online banking details in an email
Digital crimes can be reported to the FBI through their Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).