Cape Coral resident hustled out of $20,000 in computer ransom scheme


A Cape Coral resident paid an unknown person, or organization, $20,000 in an online scheme.

Cape Coral police got a call from a person who said they got a virus pop-up message claiming to be from Microsoft and told them to call a phone number immediately.

So the person online made the call – a big mistake.

Phil Mullen with Cape Coral police said, “Unfortunately, it’s something that does happen a lot. It’s created to have a panic response in the victim, they send you a link, they send you an email or they make a phone call that makes you panic.”

That alleged Microsoft employee took control of the victim’s computer and told them they had twenty-thousand dollars in jeopardy.

That fake Microsoft guy then instructed the victim to go to a bank and withdraw $20,000 cash.

The victim did.

Then they went to a gas station and deposited $5,000 into a bitcoin machine using a specific code. And deposited the remaining $15,000 into a bitcoin machine at another gas station.

Alan Crowetz, cyber specialist, and owner of InfoStream said, “This is the first I’ve ever seen of that. So, this is a unique new angle where the person who was the bad guy was very well versed in how to walk around it. Okay, go to your bank, that doesn’t work. Give me the information on the back of your credit card. All right, that doesn’t work. All right, let me go find a bitcoin machine for you to go to put money in, they just kept pursuing different avenues and stringing this person along until they found a way to collect the money.”

Who got the money? Who knows.

“It’s gone,” explained Crowetz. “The very nature of bitcoin is to be anonymous, and who buys it, where it’s sent, how it’s transferred. It’s usually sent overseas. This was done through a third-party ATM machine. You couldn’t ask for a better way to hide and move money than what was done in this particular scenario.”

The best advice is to always be suspicious when online.

Crowetz said the weakest part of any security system is the person in front of the keyboard.

He suggests people slow down, pay attention and be paranoid.

Copyright 2022 Fort Myers Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior written consent.

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