Waukesha County Bitcoin scam; man lost $17,000

WAUKESHA COUNTY, Wis. - A gas station is the last place you might expect to lose $17,000. But that is what Waukesha County investigators say happened to a man two weeks ago.

According to a search warrant, Waukesha County sheriff's deputies say a man noticed a false payment of $19.98 on his Apple account. Detectives say the man called Apple support. It is not clear what happened next. But the person on the other end of the phone, "Alex," was not with Apple at all. "Alex" told the man his Apple account was compromised.

The warrant says "Alex" transferred the man to Town Bank, where he has an account. There, the man spoke with "George," who said he worked for Town Bank. "George" told the man to withdraw $17,000 out of his account to "verify his identity." "George" gave instructions to deposit the funds into a Bitcoin machine at Genesee Food Mart – and into an account "George" set up for him.

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There is a warning right on the kiosk to help people avoid scams. But detectives say "George" assured the man his money would be wired back to him within "four to six hours."

Last month, FOX6 News introduced you to Lee Ann Malec. She lost $24,000 in a similar Bitcoin scam in Oconomowoc.

"I’m fearful. I’m afraid to go anywhere. I’m afraid to tell anyone," Malec said.

According to data from the Federal Trade Commission, Americans lost nearly $1.5 billion in cryptocurrency fraud cases in 2023.

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On April 27, the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department will hold a cybersecurity class for the public that will cover topics like phishing and safe browsing habits. FOX6 News reached out for an interview but did not hear back. FOX6 News also reached out to Town Bank for an interview – officials declined.