Retired nurse lost $43,000 to bitcoin – watch out for red flags online
A retired New York nurse lost $43,000 of her life savings to bitcoin scammers, after transferring the money to them via a malicious computer pop-up – an unfortunate reminder to be vigilant when on the move is about your money.
Retreat Tip of the Week: Be careful which sites you trust and if a pop-up or email looks fraudulent or concerning, get it checked out – don’t hand over your savings right away.
The woman, who was using her work computer, said she was told to send the money via wire transfer and “bitcoin ATM,” which converts dollars into cryptocurrency, the New York Post reported. The ad window said she needed to move her money to a new location so her computer wouldn’t be locked out and her money wouldn’t be stolen. Bitcoin ATM transactions cannot be undone, Todd Maher, president of financial crimes consultancy BitSource AML Solutions, told ABC affiliate WKBW.
It’s always important to double-check your investment decisions in all accounts, but especially retirement savings. Cryptocurrencies should not be avoided entirely, but they should be treated like the risky assets that they are. Many advisors suggest keeping these investments to a minimum in retirement accounts and investing in them in a separate account. Investors should also be comfortable losing any amount of money they invest in these alternatives, just as they would if they were playing it at the casino.
In this case, however, savers need to be careful of others trying to siphon off their hard-earned dollars. Financial scams are common and can affect retirement accounts, savings accounts, and social security benefits, to name a few.
Want more practical tips for your retirement savings journey? Read MarketWatch “Retirement Hacks” column
Pop-ups are a common fraud tactic – in some cases they appear as a warning, as they did with this retired nurse, while in others they may look like a virus or SMS notification.
If you receive links via email, direct message on social media platforms or SMS, confirm with the sender (if known) that the link is legitimate and was intended to be shared – and when coming from financial institutions, confirm the spelling and legitimacy of email addresses, URLs, and signatures. You can take it a step further and call the customer service line from the institution’s website or business cards – not the email or message you received – to verify that it was. of a message that was really intended for you.
Scammers can also call individuals with similar stories, according to Charles Schwab. The financial company also suggested that individuals never allow remote access to a computer unless it is from someone they trust, have a computer regularly checked by anti-virus software (but not rely solely on programs to thwart scams) and avoid relying on caller ID to know if a phone call is legitimate.
In addition to demanding money immediately, there are a few other red flags to watch out for – such as those where individuals are told that their family members are in financial trouble, or where people online learn to know romantically and then ask for money.
There are other ways to protect yourself against potential scammers. Update your passwords and make them hard to crack (so avoid words like “password”). Keep your personal information private and avoid oversharing on public social media platforms. Scams are continually evolving – at the height of the pandemic, many were offering cures for COVID.
And never feel too embarrassed to ask for help, whether from a family member, friend or the authorities – depending on the circumstances, individuals can contact their financial companies or agencies such as the Social Security Administration, the Department of Labor and the Federal Trade Commission.