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Computer scam costs 2 older Pittsburgh women thousands of dollars, police warn

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CBS News Pittsburgh Live

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Pittsburgh police are warning the public after investigators said at least two older residents have been tricked into buying thousands of dollars worth of Bitcoin. 

In both cases, police said the women believed they were talking to people who they thought were Apple customer service representatives. The scammers told them their devices had been hacked and they needed to buy Bitcoin.

Police said in one case, a 70-year-old woman was alerted through her MacBook that the computer had been hacked. She spoke with someone she thought worked for Apple and then was transferred to another person who was reportedly a PNC fraud specialist. She was then told to withdraw $22,000 to buy Bitcoin at a convenience store in the city, police said.

A 72-year-old woman was also similarly targeted. Police said she got an alert on her iPad telling her to call a phone number provided. She talked with someone she thought was from Apple, and after her call was transferred twice, she was told her account was hacked and used for child pornography. Police said she went to a local convenience store and bought $7,000 worth of Bitcoin.

Pittsburgh police's Zone 4 detectives are investigating both those cases. They're encouraging anyone who may have fallen victim to call 911 and report it to their local police.   

How to avoid tech support scams 

The Federal Trade Commission says tech support scammers try to trick people into believing they have a serious problem with their devices and then get victims to pay to fix the fake problem.

Legitimate tech companies won't contact you to tell you there's a problem with your computer, and security pop-up warnings from real companies will never ask you to call a number or click a link, the FTC says.  

If you think there's a problem with your computer, the FTC recommends updating your security software and running a scan. If you need help, go to someone you trust. If you've been targeted by a tech support scam, you can report it at

The FBI says the tech support scam is a common elder fraud scheme. Each year, the FBI says millions of older Americans fall victim to some type of financial fraud of confidence scene like romance, lottery and sweepstakes scams. 

"With the elderly population growing and seniors racking up more than $3 billion in losses annually, elder fraud has remained a growing problem," the FBI says. 

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