Tech-savvy workers save woman from losing thousands in Bitcoin scam

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – ‘Catfishing’ may sound like a fun time on the water, but when it comes to the Internet, it can be a devastating scam.

The term ‘catfishing’ refers to when someone poses as someone they’re not to lure a person into an online relationship.

Workers at one Lexington business say they were the last line of defense between a woman and someone posing as her boyfriend, trying to bilk her out of her life savings. Now they are warning others so you don’t fall victim, too.

Chris Carr and Jeff Forsyth at Nerd Brigade, a computer repair shop, said that a woman drove three hours on Wednesday to their shop on Lane Allen Road to use their Bitcoin ATM.

The woman planned to send $3,000-worth of the cryptocurrency to her supposed boyfriend she met online. Some things about the story didn’t quite add up for the workers, though.

“And I asked what does her boyfriend do?” Forsyth said. “Then she said her boyfriend is a doctor in Africa working for UNICEF. Yeah. So I knew pretty much at that point there was a problem here.”

The Bitcoin ATM at the shop isn’t quite set up yet – they just recently got it and it is still being configured – but workers stopped the woman from going somewhere else after they did a reverse image search of a picture the man sent her – purportedly of himself – that turned out to be a photo of someone in France.

“This reverse image search will allow you to actually see if that exact picture is showing up on someone else’s social media profile or anything like that,” Carr said. “If you do something like that and you find someone under a different name, there’s a pretty good chance you’re being catfished.”

So the woman called the man. Carr captured the confrontation on video as the man got audibly angry with her, asking her how she discovered the source of the picture and yelling at her for talking to other people about what she was doing (something he said he expressly told her not to do).

“He’s put weeks and weeks of his own time into getting this scam from this lady,” Carr said, “and he realizes it’s all coming crumbling down right in front of him.”

Carr and Forsyth said that woman easily could have lost her life savings in an instant, given the nature of cryptocurrency and her intent to send it to who knows where.

“More than likely this person who she felt like she loved and had this connection with would have just stopped responding,” Carr said. “Which I don’t even know what would have hurt worse, just getting dropped or having $3,000 stolen from you, too.”

But Carr said that woman is not the only one fighting tech-savvy scammers, and when dealing online, folks need to look out for red flags.

They also said tech support scams are another common way they see fraudsters try to steal money from people.

Forsyth said people should also remember that right now Bitcoin is mostly used for investments, not commonly for transactions like airline tickets.

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