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'He made it sound super official' | Port A business owner warns of bitcoin scam

One Port Aransas business owner received a automated call asking her to deposit $900 into a "federal courthouse kiosk" to pay her fines.

Unfortunately, the anonymity and decentralization that made Bitcoin popular also creates an opportunity for scammers. 

3News spoke to a woman who nearly fell for the scam in the Coastal Bend, and the store owner who saved her from throwing away $900 dollars. 

Times are changing, which means scammers are becoming more creative in the way they target everyday people. 

The Port Aransas business owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said that scams aren't as easy to decipher as some might think. 

"He made it sound super official and that I needed to leave my place of business right then and there," the business owner told 3News on the condition on anonymity. 

She went on to describe how the automated call asked her to deposit money to a very unlikely place. 

"He wanted me to go deposit $900 in this coinflip machine that is a federal courthouse kiosk to pay your fines," she said. 

However, its not a kiosk, its an ATM like machine used to buy and sell bitcoin located inside the Middle East Market and Deli off of Everheart Road. 

The owners of the deli tell 3News that scammers instruct their victims to go to machines like these, scan a QR code and then deposit money to clear their name and avoid jail time. 

But, it doesn't clear anyone's name and instead gives a scammer an easy payday straight to their cryptocurrency wallet. 

"So, they heard me talking to them on the phone and the cashier went over and told me that it was a big scam," the business owner said. "And the guy on the phone was arguing back and forth with them." 

Liza Hamauei, owner of the Deli, saved her from the scam, but said that she was just one of the cases they were able to prevent. 

"Who? I don't know, but they are sending people over here and we've already stopped three people from sending money to this scammer," Hamauei said. 

In efforts to thwart potential scam attempts, Hamauei has attempted to unplug the machine. However, due to having a contract with the company to keep it in the store, she said that all she can do is warn customers of the scam. 

"Right now we live in a terrible world and good people are the ones getting hurt, so we really need for this to stop," Hamauei said. "And I would double check, and call us to make sure that we can stop this."

As a reminder, the courthouse does NOT take bitcoin as a payment option and would never ask residents to deposit a payment to a third party site.

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