Omaha senior loses $6,000 in Bitcoin scam

A warning about the number one scam targeting Nebraska and Iowa senior citizens.
Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 10:38 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A warning about a popular scam targeting Nebraska and Iowa senior citizens.

The FBI says computer alerts are fooling victims into losing thousands of dollars. Scammers are also using a method that makes it hard to recover any money.

While writing an email to her daughter, an Omaha senior is startled by an alert that pops up on her computer screen.

“It says access to this pc has been blocked for security reasons,” the victim said.

It’s a phony alert that will end up costing her real money - $6,000 out of $10,000 the scammers wanted.

“It was the Windows icon and that’s what convinced me that this was really something that was true.”

Out of embarrassment and fear of scammers, 6 News will hide the victim’s identity. She says the computer alert lead to a phone number she called.

“He just told me to keep him on the phone so that I would not get lost, and he could continue to help me.”

A phony security agent said her bank account had been hacked so pull money out before cyber crooks got it.

“To protect my account he would just hold it aside until we figure out who was doing the scamming and then I would get it back.”

The scammer instructed her to deposit the money in Bitcoin ATMs. Despite screen warnings, an FBI special agent says that’s a growing trend among cyber scammers.

sot-super: phil lenz/asst. special agent in charge

“It’s very easy and hard for people to track,” said Phil Lenz, the Assistant Special Agent in Charge with the FBI. “There’s no government entity. Once you give money through virtual currency it’s irreversible.”

The money might be gone but the FBI Cyber Crimes Squad called Cywatch is working to make scammers pay for their crimes.

“We do have a good success rate, but you have to report it first,” Lenz said.

This victim didn’t lose all the $10,000 scammers tried to steal.

The victim still has $4,200 because when she came home before sending this off to scammers, a friend said, ‘hey wait you’re being scammed.’

“When they don’t want you to talk to your kids or tell them anything then it’s a scam because why would they care if you talked to your kids if it’s on the up and up,” the victim’s friend said.

That convinced her not to send the rest of the money. So, this scam victim was saved from a complete loss, not by a special agent, but a special friend.

At least 350 Nebraskans over 60 years old lost a total of $2.5 million in scams last year. At least 400 Iowa seniors got scammed for a total $10 million.

If you’re a victim of fraud, you can report it with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.