Northern Michigan Couple Loses $350K in Impossible-to-Trace Bitcoin Scam
An elderly couple in Northern Michigan is out about $350,000 and detectives say thieves left practically no clues to trace their identity.
How Did it Happen?
Lt. Brandon Brinks is a detective with the Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Office. Brinks tells WILX-TV that the scam began when the couple received a message on their computer instructing them to call a phone number.
“What they believed was Apple support, ended up not being Apple support,” Brinks said. “It was an unknown person from an unknown place.”
After that, the couple made multiple withdrawals from different banks in order to transfer money to 'Coin Flip,' an automatic teller machine network that uses bitcoin. However, detectives are still working to find out how the actual cash that was withdrawn got transferred through Coin Flip.
Brinks goes on to say that $350,000 is the largest amount he's ever seen stolen from one person or household.
Scammers Have Seemingly Endless Ways of Defrauding Victims
Lt. Brinks notes that the number of ways to defraud innocent victims keeps growing.
“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.”
Brink notes that in this case and in many others, there's simply a lack of documentation and therefore no real way to trace the money when it's gone.
Advice to Avoid Scams
Brinks advises that contacting businesses directly from a number provided on official websites is the safest bet. He also says that phone representatives who are unwilling to let you hang up present a red flag as well.