WASHINGTON, D.C. – The FBI has sounded the alarm on the alarming rise in “Phantom Hacker” scams.
These sophisticated scams have now evolved from traditional tech support scams, zeroing in primarily on senior citizens. A staggering $542 million was lost by victims in the first half of 2023, with individuals over 60 years-old representing 66% of these losses. That’s a 40% jump compared to the entirety of 2022.
The scam is a triple-threat, involving tech support, financial institution, and government imposters. It starts with a fake alert on the victim’s computer, urging them to seek tech support. This is a ruse to gain access to their financial accounts.
Following this, the victim is misled by a fake financial institution representative to transfer their funds, supposedly to “protect” them from foreign hackers. The scam concludes with a bogus US government official convincing the victim to transfer funds under the guise of protection.
The FBI advises caution: avoid unsolicited links, pop-ups, and never let strangers access your computer. Importantly, the US Government will never request wire transfers, especially to foreign accounts. Victims or those who suspect foul play should immediately contact their local FBI office or file a report at www.ic3.gov.