(TargetLiberty.org) – Caution is the keyword when it comes to the rising prevalence of “Phantom Hacker” scams, as per the latest advisory from the FBI’s Denver office. The unscrupulous individuals behind these elaborate ruses employ a multi-step approach to con people, particularly those of an older age bracket. The culprits often misrepresent themselves, claiming to be from technical support, banks, or even government agencies, thereby weaving an intricate web of deception.
Initially, victims are lured into the scam by someone posing as tech support from a reputable company. The impostor then convinces the victim to install software that grants remote access to their computer. This is usually facilitated via phone calls, text messages, emails, or even unsolicited computer pop-ups. Once inside, the scammer often redirects the victim’s attention to their bank accounts, claiming they have been compromised.
As the scheme progresses, the victim might then be contacted by another scammer impersonating bank personnel. Here, the victim is usually directed to relocate their funds—either via wire transfers, cash transactions, or conversion to cryptocurrency—often to a foreign account, purportedly to safeguard against an imaginary security breach.
Yet another impostor, claiming to be from a government agency, may later encourage the victim to move the funds to a new ‘alias’ account, supposedly for added security. Unfortunately, the end result is usually devastating. Victims may lose their life’s savings, including retirement and investment accounts, under the false impression that they’re securing their assets.
According to recent statistics, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received about 19,000 tech support scam complaints during the first half of 2023 alone. This has led to a staggering $542 million in losses, a shocking 40% increase year-over-year. Nearly half of these victims were above the age of 60, highlighting the vulnerability of older citizens.
To mitigate the risk of becoming a victim, one should steer clear of clicking on unsolicited pop-ups or links and avoid calling phone numbers embedded within such content. Also, never download software at the urging of an unidentified person or grant them control over your devices.
It’s crucial to remember, as the FBI emphasizes, that no genuine U.S. Government entity will ever ask for payments via wire transfers, cryptocurrency, or prepaid cards. By staying vigilant and cautious, one can significantly reduce the likelihood of falling prey to these predatory scams.
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