PARMA, Ohio — Olympia and Steve Kallman of Parma said they are dealing with some sleepless nights after police reported they had more than $22,000 taken by con artists from their Coinbase cryptocurrency virtual wallet back on Aug. 16.
Steve Kallaman told News 5 he, unfortunately, allowed a woman posing as a Coinbase employee on the phone to gain remote access to the family computer and move the funds to another account that is so far untraceable.
Olympia Kallman has turned to Parma Police, the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Attorney General's in Ohio and California in trying to find the people responsible for this fraud.
“I’ve been working at this feverishly, day in and day out, obviously sleep is not a priority anymore," Kallman said.
“So he gave her permission and he gave her the information she was requesting so she could access the account. The following day, our funds were gone, $22,600 or so were completely wiped out.”
“We tried to trace the phone numbers that were used, but all of the other numbers that I had been reaching, that were in that operation had been disconnected. Seems like they start-up numbers, they do whatever job and they disconnect them.”
The couple said they called Coinbase initially and believe they were directed to scammers who had hijacked the telephone lines.
Steve Kallman said the caller seemed legit because she had knowledge of a purchase they were trying to make, and even had the audacity to ask for an additional $5,000 to $3,000 to clear up the situation.
“Our hearts sank to the floor, and we couldn’t get in because of what they had done to lock us out of our account," Kallman said.
“You’re in such a state of fear over losing large quantities of money. (4 sec) that you’re almost willing to do something stupid on their behalf.”
The Kallman's told News 5 they had trouble getting in contact with legitimate Coinbase customer service representatives about this fraud case.
Ericka Dilworth, Cleveland Better Business Bureau Director of Operations, told News 5 consumers should never give personal information or remote access to a caller. Consumers should hang up, look up and verify the company number and contact the company directly to verify the authenticity of the caller.
"Don't give remote access over the phone, you’re giving them access to anything that is on your computer," Dilworth said. “The only time you can ever trust a phone call is if you have made the call yourself. But if the call is coming to you, you should never give out personal information over the phone like that because you just can’t trust who it is.”
Dilworth said consumers must understand a cryptocurrency exchange companies security, contact, and refund policies before investing any money.
“What is the responsibility of the business, what kind of hefty protocols are put into place, and if you do need to get your money back, how do you go about that," Dilworth said.
“You can't trust caller I.D., even if it’s a call from your bank and the bank is asking you to verify your passwords, why would they do that, they have all of that information on you already.”
News 5 contacted Coinbase headquarters about this case and the company responded immediately with the following statement:
Thanks for letting us know. We’ve passed this onto our support team to assist the Kallmans. Our goal is to be the most trusted crypto platform and our security team significantly invests to protect our 68+ million users from account takeovers (ATOs).
As a result of these protection efforts, only a small number (less than .01%) of customers have been impacted by account takeovers. In the rare event that a customer notices a potential account takeover, we provide multiple channels [help.coinbase.com] for customers to quickly and easily lock their account so no further unauthorized activity can take place.
We’ve also begun to roll out phone support for ATOs, to provide customers with a live agent to kick off an investigation: +1 888 908–7930.
More details in this blog:
Meanwhile, Olympia Kallman has nothing but forgiveness for her husband's telephone mistake and believes their strong bond will help them fight for a solution to this fraud case.
“I’m doing everything I can to survive this emotionally so that we can go on with our lives," Kallman said. “Of course I love him very much, even though he didn’t listen to my intuition if anyone asks for, don’t do it.”