A Campbell County woman was swindled out of around $30,000, sending the money to her scammer through Bitcoin transfers, the Campbell County undersheriff told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.
Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds said a 56-year-old woman on Monday reported to police that she had been scammed out of around $30,000 after a man identified as “Stephen Weiner” contacted her in March, telling her she was being awarded a grant.
“He claimed he was with the Bush Foundation and that the victim had been approved for a grant program, which required a small investment for a much larger payout,” Reynolds said Tuesday.
The two communicated from around late March until Sunday. Reynolds said since the case was still in the early part of investigation, he was unsure of why the woman stopped communicating with Weiner.
During the two months, the victim made several transactions, converting cash into Bitcoin through an ATM at a local convenience store. The transactions are still being compiled, but the total losses are estimated to be around $30,000.
Reynolds said that criminals like to use Bitcoin because it is harder to track. Due to this, he said it could be difficult to recover all of the victim’s money.
“Whether we can do anything about this or help them out in any way, I’m not sure,” he said.
The Bush Foundation awards $40 million per year to various philanthropic organizations. The foundation actually warned in 2020 of scammers using the organization’s name to try to swindle funds from unsuspecting victims.
“There are different scams, but many promise grant money if the user pays a shipping or processing fee, sends money or a gift card, or shares personal information,” the foundation said. “In some cases, scammers create fake accounts to pose as a staff member, even using names and photos of our staff. They may also hack into accounts of a friend or relative to send messages claiming they received grant money from the Bush Foundation.”
This is not the first social media-related scam that has occurred in Campbell County in recent months. In March, a woman lost $800 in a puppy scam through Facebook when a person posing as someone selling a puppy requested funds for an animal that did not exist. The buyer sent the money, believing the animal to be real.
That same month, a Gillette man reported being scammed out of $15,000 by a woman he had never met face-to-face.
Reynolds reiterated that if a message sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
“With this case, they told her she’d been approved for a grant program, but she needed to send money, which is suspicious in and of itself,” he said.