Couple bilked out of $2,900 in Bitcoin scam

Dec. 1—TRAVERSE CITY — An online scam targeting an elderly Honor couple swindled them out of $2,900 before police arrived, Michigan State Police said Wednesday.

A manager of a Garfield Township gas station called police when he noticed an elderly couple withdrawing money from the Bitcoin ATM and suspected something wasn’t quite right.

Michigan State Police Lt. Derrick Carroll said troopers and a deputy from the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office were called to the scene where they found the couple at the ATM machine on the phone with the scammer.

Carroll said the scam had started with a computer virus that was used to hack into the couple’s computer before the scammer started making multiple phone calls, posing as an employee of Microsoft and the bank where the couple had an account.

During these calls, police reported, the couple was told that they needed to pay money via Bitcoin “to prevent loss of freedoms or further financial loss.”

Carroll said the person orchestrating the scam also threatened the couple with “international crime violations.”

The couple said they had already sent $2,900 by the time officers had arrived. The swindler had demanded a total of $17,000 in Bitcoin from the couple, Carroll said.

This incident is one in a series of cyber crimes that are on the rise, according to previous Record-Eagle reporting.

Local law enforcement officers have said that, in most of these cyberscam cases, all the police can do is file a report. Once the victim gives in to the demand for money, it usually cannot be recovered.

The case is currently under investigation.

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