Unregulated crypto ATMs give criminals a loophole to prey on unsuspecting victims


Crypto ATMs (kiosks) are increasingly being used as fraud tools across the country. Machines are often unregulated and unregistered, providing a loophole for criminals to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.

In October 2021, artist Joe Samuels thought he was contacting his computer company’s IT department. During his call, he gave someone access to remotely fix his computer, and it appeared to work.

However, a few months later, I got another call from someone claiming to be from the same IT department. They told him that he had accidentally deposited $20,000 into his checking account and demanded it be returned through a Bitcoin ATM.

“Then they called me and said, ‘You have to pay us back or we’re going to get the FBI,'” said the 84-year-old. Samuels of said.

Fearing for his safety, Samuels deposited $20,000 in cash at a Bitcoin of America kiosk near his apartment in Hartford, Connecticut. Five days later he con man He was actually transferring his money from a savings account to a checking account.

The crypto kiosk used by Samuels was seized, but Samuels paid the price. He was hospitalized for his week and two years have passed but he has not been able to get his money back. He currently lives with his son because he cannot afford to live alone.

“It’s something I have to deal with. But again, I feel very lucky. I’m just taking the opportunity to paint. And get the job done.” said Samuels.

There are currently around 32,000 cryptocurrency ATMs and kiosks nationwide, up from 1,200 in 2018. These are similar to regular ATMs, but they convert cash into digital virtual currency and send it to digital wallets instead of traditional bank accounts.

Bitcoin of America, along with the CEO and two others, have been charged with conspiracy and money laundering charges after being accused of assisting a scammer who used kiosks to steal millions of dollars from victims. The kiosks were allegedly unlicensed and profitable in Ohio.

Bitcoin of America CEO Sonny Meraban was arrested in Miami earlier this month and charged with money laundering, conspiracy and other crimes.

Some of these machines are safe for consumers, according to Connecticut Police Detective Matthew Hogan, who specializes in financial crimes and cryptocurrencies. However, he warns that the lack of regulation has led to crimes such as fraud and money laundering. Hogan also believes it was deliberately placed in a high-crime area.

“I think it’s intentionally strategically placed because of its high usage in high-crime areas,” Hogan said.

CNET’s Bree Fowler, a cybersecurity expert, warns that many cryptocurrency ATMs are unregulated and unlicensed, which poses unique risks.

“They, on some levels, are no different than soda and candy machines. If you find one of these, don’t use it right now,” Fowler said.

CBS News has reached out to Bitcoin of America for comment on the indictment. The company did not respond, and the CEO did not respond to requests for comment. The Bitcoin of America website has also been shut down.

Before Meraban’s indictment, the company claimed in court that it gave Samuels money to an unidentified third party. A judge has ordered Samuels’ money to be turned over to Bitcoin of America. But now that the company is facing legal troubles, Samuels’ family is considering suing Bitcoin of America to recover lost funds.


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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