Chico Police Department Warns Residents about Cryptocurrency Scams


The Chico Police Department (CPD) urges residents to guard against becoming a victim of fraud following reports of scams involving bitcoin (electronic or virtual currency) and cryptocurrency ATMs. 

A cryptocurrency ATM is a machine that accepts cash and converts the funds to cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrencies are digital forms of money not controlled by banks or government regulation. Bitcoin is a popular cryptocurrency.

According to reports, scammers are contacting victims via telephone and posing as representatives of government agencies (Social Security Administration, Department of the Treasury), law enforcement, and local utility companies. In these scams, the callers claim that the victim is being investigated for a crime, their identity has been compromised, or they are behind on some form of payment. The scammer asks for payment via cryptocurrency ATMs and provides a QR code (a type of bar code) to use at an ATM to send funds to the scammer’s account.

Scammers have also contacted victims via email, posing as employees of companies such as Amazon and Norton Anti-virus. In these scams, victims are told that their accounts have been wrongly charged, and they need to allow the scammer to control their computer remotely to resolve the issue. Once granted access to the victim’s computer, the scammer manipulates funds to make it appear the victim received too much money. They then ask the victim to return funds to the company, most often via cryptocurrency or gift cards.

The scammers often know basic demographic information about the victim, which further aids their ability to convince the victim to believe they are a legitimate government agency member. Scammers have even sent the victim what appears to be photographs of official government IDs and documents to aid their scam further.

The Chico Police Department wants residents to know that no government entity would ever allow or ask residents to deposit money into a Crypto-ATM for any reason.

Scams are becoming more challenging to identify. CPD offers the following tips to help you avoid being scammed:

  • RESIST the urge to act immediately – no matter how dramatic the story is
  • VERIFY the caller’s identity – Ask questions a stranger couldn’t answer. Check with a family member to find out if the information is true
  • DO NOT deposit money into a Crypto-ATM or send cash, gift cards, or money transfers. Once the scammer gets your money, it’s gone!
  • DO NOT give your personal banking account information by email or phone OR allow someone remote access into bank accounts as directed by the caller
  • If you have parents or older adults in your family, take the time to explain these scams to them

If you believe you are a victim of this type of crime, report it to the Chico Police Department at 530-897-4911.

The Chico Police Department is committed to ensuring our community is a safe place to live, work, and recreate within!  

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