Cleveland woman avoids scam before paying utility bill at Bitcoin kiosk

People are phishing for victims who are told to pay utility bills at bitcoin kiosks.

Cleveland woman avoids scam before paying utility bill at Bitcoin kiosk

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - When just about any new technology is developed there is someone who will find a way to abuse it.

Cleveland woman avoids scam before paying utility bill at Bitcoin kiosk

The latest is a Bitcoin twist on an old scam.

A viewer wrote saying she’d been contacted to go to a Bitcoin kiosk to pay an overdue Cleveland Public Power bill of about $85. She was told she needed to buy bitcoin currency to do it.

“Once you’ve made that transfer, it’s irreversible,” said Sue McConnell of the Cleveland Better Business Bureau.

She described how the bitcoin currency is routed.

“They have to give you instructions on how because you need to purchase bitcoin," McConnell added. "So they have to give you a method to transfer that bitcoin into their account.”

McConnell said it is just as dangerous as a well-worn scheme where people were told to wire money to strangers to pay back bills.

“Simply put, don’t do it. The merchant that has the machine is not involved in the scam. More than likely, they’re just providing you a kiosk like an ATM,” McConnell added.

“No, don’t pay bills,” urged a store owner who has a kiosk, one of only nine in greater Cleveland

There are warnings on the Bitcoin kiosks about not paying bills, but many people still do.

A lack of understanding of bitcoin technology can lead to problems.

“Bitcoin in confusing. It’s not readily understood and people don’t realize you don’t have any protections like you do if you pay with a credit card,” McConnell said.

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