URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Police have some helpful tips to avoid falling for a scheme that could drain your bank account after a U of I employee was scammed out of $69,000.
This victim got a threatening phone call from someone claiming to be from a local social security office, saying his social social security number had been compromised.
The caller said there was a warrant for the victim’s arrest, then gave instructions on how he could get out of it. The victim withdrew $69,000 from several different Chase banks in Champaign-Urbana, then transferred that money at a Bitcoin ATM in Springfield. Pat Wade with UI Police says, “It’s virtual currency that you transfer to an unknown account. So it’s hard to trace where this money is going.”
UI and Urbana Police say they get reports of people giving up money in one form or another at least two to three times a month. They say no government official office will ever ask for money over the phone. If you’re being threatened, hang up and report this scam to the police to avoid what happened to this man.
Calls like this are highly suspicious and police say these scams should raise red flags when you answer the phone. Urbana Police Financial Crimes Investigator Duane Smith says he’s seen a scam like his swindle a woman out of $300,000. “It’s really amazing how most of our victims of scams actually pay the scammer and it’s not cash it’s in gift cards and iTunes cards,” says Smith. “You could be wiped out literally through a five minute phone conversation.”
The main warning police want to share is not to let anyone trick or pressure you into believing what they claim is legitimate because the consequences could be devastating. Smith says, “Once the money leaves your account, it would be a miracle to get any of it back.”
The UI employee did report what happened to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center. They work to identify patterns in these scams and track down the source.
Police also warn you not to trust caller I.D. Scammers can easily spoof local numbers to make it appear more legitimate.