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Denver bar scam giving criminals complete access to victims' phones

Denver bar scam giving criminals complete access to victims' phones
Posted at 1:39 PM, Dec 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-08 15:53:17-05

DENVER — Police in Denver issued a warning Friday about a troubling new scam brewing up in the city’s bars that’s giving criminals complete access to victims’ phones.

Police say smartphones are being stolen from unsuspecting bar patrons across the city. But the criminal doesn’t stop there. 

Police say when the victim calls their phone to locate it— usually the next day — the thief picks up and impersonates the bar manager.

On the phone with the victim, the thief will claim the phone was turned in by either a customer or a staff member and thief will need the victim’s passcode to ensure the phone belongs to the victim.

According to this scenario provided by police, the scammer now has complete access to the victim’s phone, including photos and personal information, and could move money via apps tied to the victim’s bank account. 

Scammers lock the victim out by changing the phone’s passcode.

Police say since May of 2017, they have seen nearly 40 cases similar to the scenario described above. They offered the following tips to avoid becoming the next victim of this scam:

1. Always keep your phone secured! If it is in a bag or purse, make sure the bag/purse is closed and that the phone is not in a place from which it can be easily grabbed.

2. Create complex passcodes so the bad guys can’t easily guess.

3. Do not link payment apps to other accounts, especially public ones (social media).

4. Do not give your PIN, passcode, or other passwords out at any time, to anyone.

5. If your phone is missing or stolen, log on to your account and wipe all your personal information and deactivate any payment accounts immediately.