GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – A Green Bay man recently reported a loss of over $37,000 after depositing cash into a Bitcoin ATM, prompting a warning from the Green Bay Police Department (GBPD) about the growing popularity of cryptocurrency scams.

According to the GBPD, these types of scams have caused a reported $195,200 in stolen money so far in 2023, which officers say is already way more than any other year.

The Green Bay man, who recently informed officers of a $37,700 loss, was reportedly following instructions from a ‘network of individuals.’

Officers warn that in most cases, scammers have been able to convince the victims to convert thousands of dollars in cash into cryptocurrency and transfer it at a crypto ATM with a phone call or an online pop-up message.

“If you’re not expecting that phone call or that transaction, it’s probably a scam,” said Jeff Brester, Captain of the Investigative Divison at the Green Bay Police Department. “Moving forward, if you get those calls, hang up. If for some reason, you feel that you were tricked by somebody and you did transfer some money, call your local police agency and if it’s in Green Bay, call us right away so we can get a report started which will give us the best chance of trying to recover that money.”

The scammers appear to be making claims that the person needs to resolve some sort of crime, legal fee, fraud, hacking, identity theft, technical and/or package delivery issue by using the names of large corporations or impersonating a government official or agency for credibility. Then, specific instructions are said to be given and, in some cases, these criminals will offer to remain in constant contact until the transaction is complete.

Green Bay Police Department

Since 2020, GBPD has received 28 reported cases of this type of scam, totaling $273,893.

  • 2023 – 15 Cases
    • $195,200
  • 2022 – 3 Cases
    • $34,577
  • 2021 – 8 Cases
    • $35,216
  • 2020 – 2 Cases
    • $8,900

“If there is one takeaway, remember that neither a legitimate company nor a government entity will require cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin as payment to resolve immediate debts,” said Captain Jeff Brester. “It’s also very important that you never grant permission for remote access to your computer, tablet or phone or share personal information such as a social security number if you’re unsure of who’s receiving it.”

Officers also noted that it is very difficult to get the victim’s money back due to the fact that the scammers are often out of the country.

“One thing to consider on the cryptocurrency side is that it is not backed by a government and it does not come with the same insurance protections so it’s one way that it can be alluded to trying to get you to take part in these scams that are harder to trace or track down,” said Travis Price, Financial Advisor at Strategic Financial Group. “The most important thing is to always know who your money is going to.”

Price recommends speaking with family members or trusted financial advisors before making any online transactions. Reports from the Better Business Bureau have also shown a large uptick in cryptocurrency scams over the past couple of years.

“Reports from victims of large financial losses to crypto-related scams have skyrocketed since 2020 and the Better Business Bureau has received over 2,400 complaints with losses of over 8 million dollars since 2021,” said Lisa Schiller, BBB Director of Investigations and Media Relations. “Reports to our BBB scam tracker nearly tripled between 2019 and 2021.”

Any Green Bay resident who may have been a victim of a cyber scam is asked to contact GBPD at (920) 448-3200 to report it. A report can also be filed through the FBI Internet Crimes Complaint Center here.

Those wishing to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at (920) 432-7867 or can submit a tip online or by utilizing the P3 Tips app. Reporting crimes related to cryptocurrency to the Better Business Bureau scam tracker will also provide anonymity.

No other information was provided.