🔴 A 65-year-old woman started receiving scam alerts while shopping online

🔴 She was convinced to install an app which gave scammers access to her personal information

🔴 The scammers spoofed her phone number, making her believe she was talking to her bank

A Merrimac woman told police she fell for a scam that started with the click of a link while shopping online, and lost $28,000.

Police Chief Eric M. Shears said the 65-year-old woman received a warning about a scam alert and was instructed to call a specific phone number.  This triggered a series of events that led to her funds being lost.

The woman called the number and was told to download an app on her phone, and that funds had been transferred to her account by mistake. By calling her "bank", the situation would be rectified. Instead, the app gave the scammers access to personal information which allowed them to convince the woman to withdraw money from her account and deposit the cash into a nearby Bitcoin ATM.

The woman at this point realized she had been scammed, but the money was as good as gone.

“Scams like these are tragic because they target and take advantage of elderly residents, who often have limited income and rely on their savings,” Shears said. “A key point to remember when trying to protect yourself against such scams is that few legitimate businesses will have you send payment via bitcoin, gift cards or money transfer.”

Tips to Protect Yourself:

  • Do not send payments to someone you have only spoken to online, even if you believe you have established a relationship with the individual.
  • Do not follow instructions from someone you have never met to scan a QR code, and send payment via a physical cryptocurrency ATM.
  • Do not respond to a caller who claims to be a representative of a company, where you are an account holder, and who requests personal information or demands cryptocurrency. Contact the number listed on your card or the entity directly for verification.
  • Do not respond to a caller from an unknown telephone number who identifies as a person you know and requests cryptocurrency.
  • Practice caution when an entity states they can only accept cryptocurrency and identifies as the government, law enforcement, a legal office, or a utility company. These entities will likely not instruct you to wire funds, send checks, send money overseas, or make deposits into unknown individuals’ accounts.
  • Avoid cryptocurrency ATMs advertising anonymity and only requiring a phone number or e-mail. These cryptocurrency ATMs may be non-compliant with US federal regulations and may facilitate money laundering. Instructions to use cryptocurrency ATMs with these specific characteristics are a significant indicator of fraud.
  • If you are using a cryptocurrency ATM and the ATM operator calls you to explain that your transactions are consistent with fraud and advises you to stop sending money, you should stop or cancel the transaction.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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