HOUSTON – A Houston woman is out $12,500 after falling victim to cryptocurrency theft.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, since 2021, more than 46,000 people have reported losing over $1 billion in crypto scams.
The woman KPRC 2 spoke with asked us not to reveal her identity.
“I went on the computer. I paid a couple of bills, I used my email; suddenly the computer had all these boxes on it,” the woman said. “I couldn’t get out of it and suddenly a number came up called ‘Microsoft.”
The woman said her computer was brand-new and the only time it had been used was when data from her old computer was transferred. As for the number that popped up on her screen, it did not connect her to anyone with Microsoft as she thought.
“The person on the other end told me I had been cyber-hacked, and there were all these porn sites and gambling sites on (my computer),” she said.
The person on the other end of the line then said she was transferring the woman to Chase Bank’s fraud department. The woman said she does have an account with Chase, and the person she was speaking with had a lot of her personal information.
“She transferred me, and the person said they were from Chase fraud, so I assumed it’s Chase,” the woman said.
The person she was transferred to was not with Chase but instructed the woman to withdraw money from her account and put that money into cryptocurrency machines because she still had to pay for the porn and gambling sites hackers used her computer to access. The man even instructed her to use a cryptocurrency machine close to her house.
“So he knew where you lived?” asked KPRC 2 Investigator Robert Arnold.
“Yes,” she replied.
The woman showed KPRC 2 two receipts totaling $10,000 deposited into a cryptocurrency machine. She said when she tried to deposit another $2,500 the machine would not take the cash, so the man on the phone instructed her to use another machine at a different location. The man then instructed the woman to take pictures of her cryptocurrency receipts and text those pictures to him.
The QR code and private keys on those receipts provide direct access to a person’s funds. When this lady texted pictures of her receipts to the man on the phone, the money was taken out of her ‘paper wallet’ and disappeared.
The woman and her attorney, Tom Nixon, called both cryptocurrency companies where she deposited money, and both said there was nothing that could be done.
One company even sent her confirmation the money in her ‘paper wallet’ was sent to an address on the Bitcoin blockchain that no longer contained any cryptocurrency.
“We’re going to try to figure out where the malware on her computer came that caused this or initiated this whole episode,” said Nixon.
Many cryptocurrency machines come with warnings that if anyone is trying to get you to create an account to make a payment to a government office or attorney, it’s likely a scam.
If you think you have been a victim of a cryptocurrency scam please call police and report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.