This article was published on May 2, 2019

NYPD: Bitcoin thieves posing as government officials have stolen over $2M

Phone scams are on the rise!

NYPD: Bitcoin thieves posing as government officials have stolen over $2M
Yessi Bello Perez
Story by

Yessi Bello Perez

Former Senior Writer, Growth Quarters

New York’s Police Department (NYPD) is alerting the public about phone scammers posing as Social Security Administration officials and requesting payment in Bitcoin, prepaid gift cards, and bank wire transfers.

NYPD noted the scammers have already thieved millions of dollars by exploiting the trusted reputation of government agencies.

Such scams are on the rise, NYPD said. So far this year, the NYPD has received more than 200 complaints with losses totalling more than $2 million. In 2018, the NYPD received only three similar complaints.

“Sophisticated phone scams use the trust victims have in their own governmental and law enforcement agencies against them. Victims of this type of phone scam are not limited to senior citizens – these criminals are targeting every strata of society and every demographic is vulnerable,” said chief of community affairs Nilda Hofmann.

“The NYPD is committed to working closely with our partners in the financial industries and will not rest until we bring those responsible for these crimes accountable. If you even suspect a call to be fraudulent, don’t take a chance, just hang up,” Hofmann added.

Scammers posing as the Social Security Administration contact victims claiming their social security number has been used to open numerous accounts, or is involved in some sort of drug trafficking or money laundering operation. The victims are then told to transfer various sums of money to help resolve the situation.

A person posing as a “police officer” or “law enforcement official” will intimidate or threaten victims to get them to comply.

As we know from previous reports, scammers use “spoofing” to manipulate caller IDs to display the number of the Social Security Administration, or other official agencies. In some cases the scammer even uses the names of real officers.

It must be noted that this is a widespread problem, affecting people all over the US. Just last month, we reported that phone scammers posing as a police officer were targeting victims in California, asking that they hand over all the money in their bank account in Bitcoin.

The only way to stop these criminals, who are swindling large amounts of cash from unsuspecting victims and in turn adding to Bitcoin’s branding problem, is to ignore them and to never, ever, pay up.

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