‘Something didn’t feel right’: Memphis woman loses $7K in Bitcoin scam

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When a strange message popped up her family’s computer in July, 78-year-old Randa Cranford said she immediately called the phone number on the screen.

“All of a sudden, these windows flashed up and a message that read, ‘If you can’t get back into your computer, please call this number,’” the great-grandmother recalled.

On the phone, she said a man told her that her bank account was not secure.

“He says, ‘This has been compromised and this has been compromised,’” she remembered. “They thought Bitcoins would be the best solution because I could secure my money that way.”

The great-grandmother said the scam artist stayed on the phone while she was withdrawing $7,000 from the bank. He recommended she go to a Bitcoin ATM. The nearest one was located inside a Midtown Hop-In just blocks from her home.

“I was told to go put the $7,000 into Bitcoins and they would transfer it to my savings account,” she said.

When the scammer told her to invest more money, she said she started to grow suspicious. However, it was too late.

“He told me to shred the receipts from the Bitcoin machine, but I took pictures of them, so I have them on my phone,” she explained. “Listen to your gut. Something didn’t feel right, but I thought, ‘I don’t know enough about this.’”

Because Cranford physically withdrew the money from her own account and purchased the Bitcoin, she said officers told her it would be difficult to recover what she lost.

“He made sure it looked like I did all of it willingly,” Cranford said.

“Chances are, she’ll never get that money back,” said Daniel Irwin, a spokesman for the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South.

Irwin said scammers purposefully target seniors who might not have a great understanding of technology.

“So that’s what’s just so heartbreaking,” he explained. “Anyone can lose that money and you feel bad, but when someone’s retired and on a fixed income, that’s even more heartbreaking.”

“Especially for us elderly folks, that you know, technology is way above our heads most of the time,” Cranford admitted.

Knowing she’ll likely never recover her money, the great-grandmother of eight said she wanted to warn all other seniors to hang up the phone if a message sounds suspicious.

“It’s just been a real big headache,” she explained. “I hope that people, whenever they hear this, they will be more cautious.”