Bitcoin scams are becoming more common


FORT THOMAS, Ky. — The Fort Thomas Police Department is advising residents of a new scam it has been seeing over the last few weeks. The scam involves Bitcoin, which is a form of digital currency.

What You Need To Know

  •  Police are seeing more Bitcoin scams

  •  The latest has scam artists posing as law enforcement demanding money for dropped charges 

  •  Attorneys say its hard to recover funds from crypto scams

“Once the money is deposited inside a Bitcoin ATM, the money is gone, almost immediately. It is unlikely that the money will ever be located,” the department said in a public notice. “The scammers usually stay on the phone with you through the entire process until the money is deposited.”

Scammers have been telling people they are local police, U.S. Marshals, Border Patrol, and other law enforcement officers, according to the department. Scammers tell victims they need to pay a certain amount to get charges dropped. 

Attorney Brian Levin of Levin Law said his office receives hundreds of inquiries every month from people who’ve been ripped off in cryptocurrency scams. 

“We’ve seen people who have invested millions and millions of dollars on this representation. And then when the people go to take their money out, they are told, ‘well, you have to pay a tax of 20%,’” Levin said.

However, he said there is little recourse for the scams happening in Fort Thomas.

“Cryptocurrency transactions are not reversible, unlike certain cash transactions with banks, so once the money goes out, there’s essentially no getting it back,” Levin said. “Because even if you can identify where the cryptocurrency is on a blockchain, it’s nearly impossible for them to obtain that cryptocurrency and get it back. And a lot of times it’s in a private wallet, which makes it virtually impossible to get.”

Levin said a lot of his firm’s current work focuses on suing large corporations for data privacy related issues, such as permitting unauthorized parties to get into people’s accounts. A lot of that is in the cryptocurrency space, he said.

Fort Thomas police said other scammers have been changing email domain names.

“Once clicking on those domain names, they are able to take over your computer and then begin their demands,” the department said.

According to the department, there are Bitcoin ATMs all over the northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati areas. They are typically in small gas stations, convenience stores, and liquor stores.

“If you find yourself in a situation, in front of or inside one of these places while on the phone with these scammers, hang up the phone and contact your local police department immediately,” the department said. “Please remember that police departments will not ask you to give money to get out of warrants or trouble over the phone. Do not give any personal identifying information over the phone. If they ask you to deposit money into a Bitcoin ATM, it is a scam!”

Levin said hacking scams happen all across the country, and anyone can be just a click away from falling victim.

“Criminals see that a lot of people are investing in cryptocurrency. And criminals see that people are used to these massive returns,” Levin said. “It is far easier than people appreciate for criminals to install malware and spyware on your computer. So if you click on a link, you may instantly or almost instantly have malware or spyware installed on your computer. And that’s also true on your phone.”

Levin said his firm has been successful in helping people retrieve their assets in these instances.