In addition to tech writing, I also do crime reporting. I recently came across a scheme used to rob a gas station that combined elements of phone scams, email scams, and cryptocurrency scams.
Here’s what happened – Around 5 am in the morning, scammers called a clerk who was working alone at a carryout/gas station.
Just after 5 am on Thursday, the station manager contacted the police to report that a clerk was robbed over the phone. They told the woman, they were from the local fire department and were coming to the store for the fire inspection but they first needed her to pay some inspection fees. The scammers told the hapless woman she needed to take money from the register drawer and use the ATM in the gas station to convert it to cryptocurrency and transfer it to them.
The store had an ATM like this installed. It allows you to convert cash to Bitcoin.
Unfortunately, the woman complied without checking with store management, the police, or the fire department. When the fire department never showed up, she realized she’d been had. Unfortunately, the money was gone and basically untraceable. Shockingly, she’s not the first one to fall for it. In fact, cryptocurrency is replacing gift cards as a favorite tool for scammers everywhere.
Scammers impersonate credit card companies, government agencies, police, and just about anyone you can think of to trick folks into sending them their money. Remember, always stop and think it over before you panic and give money or access to your devices to anyone. The fire department is not just going to call you and ask for money. If the fire department wants to fine you, they’ll take you to court.