Ongoing Scams – Financial Elder Crimes using Bitcoin ATMs
November 17, 2023 - Ventura County Sheriff's Office officials report that the Camarillo Community Resources Unit is aware of on-going cryptocurrency scams. The scams generally target victims age 65 or older. The scam starts with the suspect calling the victim or the victim receiving a scam email. The scam email includes a phone number for the victim to call to fix a problem, like cancelling an order.
The scam suspects convince the victims into believing they need to pay a debt, a bill, a fine, a warrant or return funds. The scam suspects direct the victims to withdraw cash out of their bank account and then drive to a nearby Bitcoin ATM. At the Bitcoin ATM, the suspect instructs the victims how to input their cash (thousands of dollars) into the Bitcoin ATM and send their money to an unknown cryptocurrency wallet address. The victims later realize they were scammed and do not get the stolen funds returned. Similar scams using bitcoin and cryptocurrency are not new but have been increasing over the last few years as a mode to launder stolen money.
Scam suspects regularly use internet phone numbers using free mobile applications to commit scams. From prior investigations, detectives have learned the internet phone numbers originate outside the United States. Once the stolen funds are sent via the Bitcoin ATM, they are regularly cashed out using cryptocurrency exchanges outside the United States.
The Camarillo Community Resources Unit, with the help of Camarillo Citizens Patrol (C.C.P.), has started placing warning signs on Bitcoin ATMs throughout Camarillo to try and prevent additional victims. The Bitcoin ATMs are located inside numerous supermarkets, pharmacy stores, gas stations, tobacco shops and liquor stores. Similar scam warning signs have been previously placed near gift card stands at various retailers in the city of Camarillo. Scam suspects are still using gift cards as another method of instructing victims to send money.
The Camarillo Community Resources Unit would like to remind the public to never allow an unknown subject from an unsolicited phone call or phone number from a scam email to have remote access (using programs like AnyDesk) into their computer. Scam suspects remoting into computers can obtain personal identifying information and can trick victims into thinking they received too much money, and therefore need to send money back using methods like a Bitcoin ATM to fix a “mistake.”
The Camarillo Community Resources Unit continues to combat scams by teaching scam presentations to various communities in the City of Camarillo to inform them about how scams operate and how to avoid becoming a victim.
The C.C.P. is a community-based crime prevention program exercising pro-active law enforcement principles. The C.C.P. program is composed of volunteers who desire to interact, serve, and protect their community. C.C.P. members conduct visibility patrols, assist with community-based activities such as parades, perform vacation house checks, conduct traffic control at collisions, help during local incidents and events, perform Kid Print and Person At-Risk Cards, and perform other specialized station duties.
If you are interested in learning more about volunteering, or wish to sign up, please stop by the Camarillo Police Station for a program specific pamphlet or call Senior Deputy John Meeker at (805)-388-5130.
Nature of Incident: Ongoing Scams – Financial Elder Crimes using Bitcoin ATMs
Location: Camarillo, CA
Date & Time: 11/16/2023
Unit(s) Responsible: Camarillo Community Resources Unit / Camarillo Citizens Patrol
Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information, which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for this crime. The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).
Source: Ventura County Sheriff's Office