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Scammer attempts to steal $5,000 from widow in cryptocurrency scheme

12 Scams of Christmas
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Posted at 6:33 PM, Dec 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-09 21:58:46-05

BALTIMORE — The possibility of a quick profit is driving many to invest in cryptocurrency and scammers are taking advantage of consumers unfamiliar with it.

Tammy Carr’s crypto nightmare started with a slew of charges on her credit cards.

“The first one was $10,000 out of London, somebody paid for school. The other one was $8,000 and something, and the other was $6,600, and then one was like $300 from Dubai,” Carr said.

Her banking information had been compromised. She reported the fraudulent charges to her credit card companies and then received a call from a man named Brian who claimed to be with Experian.

“He had the last four digits of my credit card numbers, he had my name, address, and he knew which credit cards I had,” said Carr.

He said he’d secure her accounts and needed the codes texted to her phone.

“He said everything right. So, I had no reason to believe that he wasn’t who he said he was,” Carr said.

Once he gained access to her accounts, he set his sights on Carr’s life insurance payout after her husband passed away from Covid-19.

“Being vulnerable and being a widow, it’s just been a mess,” said Carr.

Brian told her the money would grow a lot faster in cryptocurrency.

“Well, I've heard about Bitcoin and all that but I don’t know anything about it,” said Carr. “I thought he was helping me. So he said, look, go download this app called Binance US so I went and downloaded the app and everything and I did it, and I said alright, I’ll do $2,500.”

He set-up the account and initiated the transfer except he’d withdrawn twice the amount they’d agreed on.

“So now, my $5,000 is in the cryptocurrency and now my account’s locked,” said Carr.

She couldn’t withdraw her money and Brian stopped helping.

“Crypto is used by a lot of criminals and scammers because it’s not traceable,” said Bill Sieglein, a cybersecurity expert.

Sieglein has seen scammers use fake websites that trick victims into thinking they’re making money as a ploy to invest more.

“Investment advice coming from someone you don’t know, ignore all that. Delete those texts, delete those emails. There’s no crypto to invest in unless you want to go to Coinbase or directly to one of the places that trade crypto,” said Sieglein.

Sergeant James Farrell with the Bel Air Police Department contacted Binance on Carr’s behalf. The company has agreed to return $2,500, but the other $2,500 was taken by the scammer.

Also, be careful of any impostors that claim you need to pay the IRS or your utility bill with cryptocurrency.

In addition to being untraceable, these transactions are irreversible and do not come with any legal protections.