The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a warning about a new scam called the “Phantom Hacker” that specifically targets senior citizens. This scam, which has evolved from general tech support scams, involves imposters posing as tech support agents, financial institution representatives, or US government employees. The scammers employ various personas to gain the trust of their victims and identify lucrative accounts to target.
Under the guise of protecting their assets, victims are convinced to transfer their funds to a different account controlled by the scammers. The FBI has observed a significant increase in these scams, disproportionately affecting senior citizens. Between January and June 2023, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received approximately 19,000 complaints related to tech support scams, resulting in estimated losses exceeding $542 million.
Of the victims who reported to IC3, nearly 50% were over 60, accounting for 66% of the total losses. Notably, the losses incurred in 2023 have already surpassed those in 2022 by 40%. The FBI advises potential victims to remain vigilant and report any scam attempts immediately.
The FBI advises the following measures to guard against fraud:
- Avoid clicking on unexpected pop-ups, links in text messages, or email links and attachments.
- Refrain from dialing phone numbers given in pop-ups, texts, or emails.
- Do not download software upon the request of someone you don’t know.
- Never grant control of your computer to strangers who reach out to you.
- Remember, the US Government will never ask you to wire money to foreign accounts or send funds via cryptocurrency or gift/prepaid cards.