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FBI Warns of Scams Using Crypto ATMs and QR Codes

Updated: May 5

Originally publish in CoinDesk, Nov. 5, 2021

We encourage you to share this information with your staff and if they see something that may indicate a consumer is using the Bitcoin ATM in your store under duress, to contact authorities.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is warning there has been a rise in fraudulent schemes using cryptocurrency automated teller machines (ATM) and quick response (QR) codes to facilitate payments.

Here's how this scheme works:

  • The FBI said it has seen an increase in scammers directing victims to use physical crypto ATMs and QR codes to complete payment transactions.

  • Scammers will request payment from the victim and then direct the victim to withdraw money from the victim’s financial accounts, such as investment or retirement accounts.

  • The FBI warns they will also provide a QR code associated with the scammer’s cryptocurrency wallet for the victim to use during the transaction.

  • The scammer will then direct the victim to a physical cryptocurrency ATM to insert their money, purchase cryptocurrency and use the provided QR code to auto-populate the recipient address. Often the scammer is in constant online communication with the victim and provides step-by-step instructions until the payment is completed, said the FBI.

  • “It is important to remain vigilant and not make payments to someone you have only spoken to online, even if you believe you have a relationship with the individual,” advised the FBI.

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