Crypto ATM scams on the rise in one California county

Warnings signs are being posted on Bitcoin ATMs in Thousand Oaks due to a recent spike in cryptocurrency scams, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office announced Wednesday.

The scams typically start with a phone call or email from the criminal demanding the victim pay off a debt, a bill, a fine, a warrant, or return funds.

“The scam suspects direct the victims to withdraw cash out of their bank account and then drive to a nearby Bitcoin ATM,” said Detective Ryan Shoden with the East County Investigations Unit. “The suspect instructs the victims how to input their cash, which can be several thousands of dollars, into the Bitcoin ATM and send their money to an unknown cryptocurrency wallet address.”

By the time the victim realizes they were scammed, it’s too late.

Cryptocurrency ATM scams
Cryptocurrency ATM scams
Cryptocurrency ATM scams

Shoden said scams involving Bitcoin and cryptocurrency are nothing new, but they have been increasing over the past few years.

Deputies have posted signs reading, “Watch out for SCAMS!!!,” on Bitcoin ATMs at supermarkets, pharmacy stores, gas stations and liquor stores throughout Thousand Oaks.

“If you were directed to use any cryptocurrency ATM kiosk to fix a mistake or pay for a bill, warrant or bail – Hang up the phone. It’s a scam!”

Authorities say criminals regularly use internet phone numbers through free mobile applications to commit crimes, and they often originate outside the United States.

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