An Athens man faced with a malfunctioning computer sought help through a window that opened on his computer screen offering assistance, but instead fell victim to a scam and lost $45,000.
The 60-year-old man filed a fraud report with Athens-Clarke police detailing how he lost the money after removing it from his bank and placing it in a Bitcoin account.
The fraud was not a typical scheme perpetrated in the Athens area, where the con artists often encourage their victims to purchase gift or money cards and provide the activation numbers.
Bitcoin is a popular cryptocurrency on the financial marketplace and according to the financial website Investopedia, it is one of the first cryptocurrencies, created in 2009.
“Bitcoin exchanges are entirely digital and — as with any virtual system — are at risk from hackers, malware and operational glitches,” according to Investopedia.
The man reported that on Jan. 18 after his computer malfunctioned, a window popped open telling him to call a certain number to speak with a Microsoft representative. The man called the number and was told his computer and cell phone were no longer safe to use because of fraudulent activity, and this included the safety of his money deposited in a local bank.
The man was told to withdraw the money, totaling $45,000, and place it in a Bitcoin account, according to the report.
When the scam artist sent the man a barcode, he used his phone to scan the barcode in the Bitcoin account.
Sometime later, the con artist called again, telling the man he was about to put the money back into his bank account, but wanted him to send an additional $16,000 to pay the Georgia taxes, police said.
At this point, police said the man realized he had been scammed.
Police Lt. Shaun Barnett said Tuesday that the barcode apparently went to a Bitcoin account to which the suspect had access, while the victim thought he was placing the money into a secure account.
“This is something people need to be aware of and cautious about,” Barnett said.
This article originally appeared on Athens Banner-Herald: Athens GA man loses $45,000 to con artist in Bitcoin scam