Wausau PD warns of “troubling increase” in cryptocurrency scams

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) – Over the years, more and more cryptocurrency ATMs have appeared in local businesses. Scammers have taken advantage of its rise, finding a new, unique way to take money from others.

“It’s harder for government agencies to track it down,” says Detective Nicholas Walters of the Wausau Police Department. “Once you send it to that person, they can take that money and send it out dozens of times in a single day. And every time they do that, that makes that money harder and harder and harder and harder to track.”

The Wausau Police Department says scammers are working in various ways. This includes posing as a grandchild in trouble, a bank informing you your account has been compromised, or letting you know your computer has been hacked. If they bring up crypto in these scenarios, that’s when you hang up the phone.

“No government agency, no company, no lawyer, no one is going to tell you to pay them in cryptocurrency,” says Walters. “They’re going to want cash or check or something like that.”

A recent scam incident occurred at local dispensary ‘Lil Devil’s Glass’ in Wausau. Employee Bryan Wick tried to step in and help.

“They had no idea they were doing it,” says Wick. “They just kept shoving hundreds in, I told them it sounds like there’s something going on, like a scam. They didn’t really want to listen, they kind of just shunned me out.”

But his cautionary pleas were ignored.

“It just kind of broke my heart, ‘cause I’ve already tried doing what I could,” says Wick. “I mean, all I could do was just tell them not to do it.”

Detective Walters says thousands of dollars are taken, it’s money that may never come back.

“Our success rate in getting that money returned to our victims is very, very low,” says Walters. “It just makes it a really frustrating experience, it’s bad news for everybody.”

The police department is also encouraging people when in doubt, to always verify the scam independently and report any suspicious activity. If you experience a call or fall victim to a scam, the department encourages you to report it to IC3.gov, reportfraud.ftc.gov, or your local law enforcement agency.