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Mesa County Sheriff’s Office warning of new scam involving cryptocurrency

Mesa County Sheriff's Office Warning of Scammers using Bitcoin ATM
Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 4:45 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office is warning of a new scam making its way through Mesa County, involving callers who are demanding payment through Bitcoin ATMs.

Spokesperson Megan Terlecky said the scam is similar to what we have seen in the past, with scammers conning people into putting money onto gift cards and getting money that way. Only with this scam, the scammer is using Bitcoin.

“We have cryptocurrency ATMs in our community,” said Terlecky. “The scammers will give them a code and convince them to go to these ATM machines and upload money. Well, the problem is once that money gets put on that account through the code, it’s gone. You’ve essentially inadvertently wired your life savings to a potential scammer.”

The sheriff’s office has received reports of people in the Grand Valley getting phone calls from these scammers who pressure them into sending them money with a sense of urgency. Often the scammers won’t let the victim hang up and walk them through the entire process of sending the money.

“There are the typical red flags with these scams that we want community members to still be aware of,” said Terlecky. “Somebody who’s pressuring you, demanding you immediately pay money, somebody who won’t let you get off the phone, and encourages you to stay on the phone while you have to go somewhere to commit a financial transaction. Whether that’s to a bank or to buy gift cards, or what we are seeing now new, is to these cryptocurrency ATMs.”

One person who called the MCSO said they received a call from someone who claimed to be from the department. Terlecky said often scammers will use actual names from people who work at the place in question.

In this case, the caller said they were from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, from the “Civil Processing Division.”

According to Terlecky, there is no Civil Processing Division within the sheriff’s office. With this particular case, Terlecky said the caller used the would-be victim’s name-- a detail that could help the scammer sound more convincing.

“So whenever you get a call, we’re asking the community members to say, ‘You know what? Let me take a step back.’ If it is the sheriff’s office calling you, we’re never going to fault you for... ‘Wait a second, I want to just verify this is,” said Terlecky. “In fact, we want you to do that. You’re more than welcome to call the sheriff’s office any time if you get a suspicious phone call or a suspicious email that you’re just ‘You know, I’m just not sure if this is legitimate.’ We’re happy to let you know if we’ve seen a similar scam like that going around.”

MCSO is working on getting warning signs posted at the Bitcoin ATM locations across the county to warn people about scammers at work.

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