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FBI warns of surge in new 'phantom hacker' scams

elder woman in front of laptop
elder woman

Happy Friday my friend!

This week the FBI issued a public service announcement warning of a significant increase in 'phantom hacker' scams targeting senior citizens. Between January and June they received over 19,000 complaints of this new scam, with estimated victim losses of over $542 million.

More than 50% of the victims were over 60 years old and as far as scams targeting the elderly, this year we're up over 40% from 2022. Yikes.

The Takeaway

The reason this new 'phantom hacker' scam works so well is because it uses a layered approach of tried-and-true scams. The diagram below is from the FBI and shows how it works:

phantom hacker
phantom hacker

It's an evolution of more general tech support scams, layering imposter tech support, financial institution, and government personas to enhance the trust victims place in the scammers and identify the most lucrative accounts to target.

Victims often suffer the loss of entire banking, savings, retirement, or investment accounts under the guise of 'protecting' their assets. Imposters employ various tactics, masquerading as tech support agents, bank representatives and even government officials, with the end game of getting the victims to move their life's savings to a 'safe' account.

So what does the FBI recommend we do to avoid becoming a victim?

The FBI cautions individuals vulnerable to potential scams against engaging with unsolicited pop-ups, links sent via text messages, or email attachments.

Additionally, they should refrain from contacting the telephone number provided in any pop-up, text, or email, and never download software at the behest of an unfamiliar individual who has approached them. As an additional precaution, avoid granting control of your computer to any unknown individual.

The FBI also emphasized that the U.S. government will never demand cryptocurrency, gift/prepaid cards, or money through wire transfers to foreign accounts.

Those who have been targeted in such scams are urged to report the incidents by filing a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

If you know someone who would find these updates useful, please consider forwarding this email - it might just save them from having their life's savings stolen.

Stay safe out there.


New Friday Funnies

What scam do cats always fall for? Fishing links.


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