Apple Valley hotel becomes victim of Bitcoin scam

Employees at an Apple Valley hotel became the victim of a scam that involved paying for a shipment that never came with Bitcoin, authorities said. 

According to police, at 4:17 a.m. on Dec. 19, Apple Valley Police Department Sgt. David Engel responded to a hotel on a report of a scam. Staff reported receiving a phone call from someone claiming to be in charge of the hotel chain, mentioning the name of the general manager for the Apple Valley location. 

Staff were told they should be receiving a shipment of fire extinguishers, but the hotel had to pay $5,000 to FedEx for shipping costs. A woman claiming to be from FedEx also joined the call to verify the claim, according to the victims.

The caller stated if the $5,000 wasn’t paid upon receipt of the delivery, the company would be assessed an additional $5,000 for a return fee – instructing the employee to obtain money from the hotel’s safe to pay for the delivery if needed. However, inside the safe, the employee only found $316. 

The woman on the call stated they could use credit to pay the $5,000 shipping cost or pay with the $316 in cash through Bitcoin. The employee was then instructed to go to a nearby Bitcoin machine to send the money. 

When the fire extinguisher shipment did not arrive, the employee got a hold of the hotel’s general manager and learned the call was a scam. 

Based on the phone numbers used throughout the conversation, police believe the case will lead to suspects outside the United States, which makes them difficult to investigate and prosecute, authorities said. 

Staff at the hotel was informed that because the money had been sent through Bitcoin to Mexico, it would not be recoverable and no further action would be taken by the police.