Wednesday, February 27, 2019

A Bitcoin for My Thoughts

Scamming hasn’t gone away, it just keeps changing.

Here’s how some recent scams go. The target gets a threatening letter that demands money. One of my friends got a letter saying she owed money on a speeding ticket she supposedly got in another state. She’d never been in that city, but decided to call the police department in case there was a mix up she needed to fix fast.

There wasn’t.

The scams vary. It could be an email threatening to expose your “naughty” website browsing history. Or an official looking letter from a government agency like the one my friend got. If you’re an affluent male, it could be a blackmail scam letter claiming you’ve been unfaithful to your wife.

Not only does scamming remain a gold mine for the scammers, they have adapted to the times with their new payment plan–bitcoin.


What the heck is bitcoin?

Oh, right. It’s an online, invisible currency. And no one even knows who invented it. Wow! What a great idea. Invisible money.

Shades of Star Trek and every other scifi book or movie. Bitcoin is composed of Os and 1s, just like everything else on the computer. Doesn’t that make you just wanna jump into the bitcoin market? Let’s not even think about the fact that every major entity from retailers to healthcare companies are hacked pretty regularly. One day you have enough bitcoin to buy a house. The next day, poof! Your account has disappeared. I watch Big Bang. I saw that hacker steal all Sheldon’s online game goodies.

You go, Penny!

But Bitcoins must be catching on because there’s almost 2,000 bitcoin ATMs in the USA.

They aren’t your good ole fashioned ATM. It’s bunches more complicated than popping a card into the regular ATM machine and having money pop back out. 

If I got it right, you get to search a database of traders, feed real coins in the slot which is poofed into bitcoin. Then, once your real coin poofs into bitcoin, you have to send the bitcoin somewhere.

Who in their right mind would want to tangle with these things? 

Not to worry though, your thoughtful scammer has included step by step (nine steps to be exact) instructions on how to use a bitcoin ATM.

If your helpful scammer didn’t ask for bitcoin, he or she may be scamming the old fashioned way and demanding payment in iTunes cards. Yep, can you believe some folks fall for the IRS asking for payment in iTunes cards? 

This scammer sends you to your local Walmart to buy umpteen iTunes cards. What? Is the scammer looking to buy a new Apple phone? Buy an Apple TV? Read an iBook?

Naturally, if you’ve never cheated on your spouse, or watched naughty videos on a naughty website, or got a speeding ticket you never paid, you don’t have anything to worry about.

Even if you have been naughty, this is blackmail. Keep in mind the email or letter are probably fake. Just be sure and do your homework. If it’s a scam, somebody online somewhere will be blowing the whistle on it.

Or you could move to a small town like Tassanoxie that doesn’t even have a Bitcoin ATM. Of course, we do have plenty of iTunes cards available. 

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