July 27, 2021
Scam/Fraud

Testing a bitcoin machine, retired teacher pensions, property tax reform, roofers and robocalls

When Bud Cawyer of East Texas, an 80-year-old scam victim who lost $295,000 to fake federal agents, told me how he fed $20,000 in $100 bills into a bitcoin machine at a gas station to pay his scammers, I said, “Wait, what?!”

Did you know there are now bitcoin ATMs in gas stations and convenience stores? I sure didn’t.

Bitcoin or cryptocurrency, as it’s also called, is gaining wider acceptance. You can buy Dallas Mavericks tickets with cryptocurrency, for instance.

But like so much else, scammers have glommed on to the new currency, too. Scammers like to get paid two different ways: either with gift cards or by bitcoin because both are harder to trace.

I played a little game this week. I went to a neighborhood bitcoin machine at a gas station and pretended I needed to send money to a scammer. How does this work?

On the day I did this, one bitcoin was worth $33,000. But in my test I only wanted to buy the $50 minimum. For that…

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