NEWS FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2022
Scam Alert: Bitcoin and Gift Card Scams
Indiana, PA – Troopers are continuing to receive reports of Bitcoin and gift card-related scams targeting residents and businesses in Indiana County.
Generally, victims are contacted via a phone call or text message and are provided with a ruse leading them to either purchase gift cards or withdraw cash and deposit it into a nearby Bitcoin ATM.
In October, 2021, two Indiana County residents sustained a combined loss of approximately $40,000 after they were contacted and advised to withdraw cash and deposit it into a Bitcoin ATM in Westmoreland County. And in July, 2022, a business in White Township, Indiana County sustained a loss of $14,650 after an employee was contacted and advised to deposit the cash into a Bitcoin ATM in Indiana Borough.
According to Bitcoin.com, “Bitcoin ATM kiosks are machines which are connected to the Internet, allowing the insertion of cash or a credit card in exchange for Bitcoin. They look like traditional ATMs, but they do not connect to a bank account and instead connect the customer directly to a Bitcoin exchange for a localized and convenient way to purchase Bitcoin in person. Common locations for Bitcoin ATMs are inside of a retail store, shop, tavern, restaurant, mall or airport.”
Since January, 2022, numerous Indiana County residents have sustained losses ranging from one-hundred dollars to approximately $20,000. In each of these cases, the victims were instructed to purchase gift cards and then provide the scammer with the gift card number(s).
Troopers strongly encourage residents and business owners to discuss these scams with family members and employees. When in doubt, always verify the legitimacy of suspicious phone calls, text messages, and emails before complying with any request or demand for money.
For guidance in determining whether something may be a scam, residents and businesses are encouraged to contact their financial institution, local law enforcement agency, or the Indiana County District Attorney’s Office. Senior residents of Indiana County are also encouraged to contact Aging Services, Inc. at 724-349-4500 for further guidance.
More tips for protecting yourself against common scams can be found on the United States Federal Trade Commission website.
For more information on the Pennsylvania State Police, visit psp.pa.gov.
MEDIA CONTACT: TFC. Cliff Greenfield, 724-357-1998 / Twitter: @PSPTroopAPIO
In the interest of transparency, it is the policy of PSP to disseminate information regarding incidents which are likely to generate significant interest among the public and media in a timely manner. While we make every effort to ensure the information is accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief, incidents are often fluid and rapidly evolving. Information provided should be considered preliminary and subject to change as additional investigative details emerge.
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NEWS FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FROM THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE
February 4, 2022
Scam Alert: Troopers Investigate Grandparent Scam
Ebensburg, PA – Troopers are investigating after a Cambria County resident sustained a loss of $23,000 during a recent scam.
On February 2, 2022 at approximately 10:00 a.m., the victim, an 89-year-old female, received a phone call from a woman claiming to be the victim’s granddaughter. During their phone conversation, the suspect advised that she was involved in a motor vehicle crash and was in police custody. The suspect also advised that she was in need of bail money.
During the course of the scam, the victim agreed to provide U.S. currency to the suspect and arranged for a “courier” to come to her residence to retrieve the money. Later that afternoon, an unknown male arrived at the victim’s residence on two separate occasions. During those visits, the male suspect met with the victim and received a total of $23,000 in U.S. currency from the victim.
The male suspect was described as a white, non-Hispanic male, approximately 30 years old, with longer brown hair and wearing a knit winter hat and a surgical-style face mask. He was reported to be operating a passenger car described as being “brighter red” in color.
Troopers are continuing to investigate and have not received any recent, similar reports. Anyone with information is strongly encouraged to contact Troop A, Ebensburg at 814-471-6500.
The state police advise residents to discuss common scams with family members and to verify the legitimacy of suspicious phone calls, emails, and text messages before providing any personal information. When in doubt, ignore the call, email, or text message and contact a family member or your local law enforcement agency for guidance.
Tips for reporting and protecting yourself against common scams can be found on the United States Federal Trade Commission website.