The FBI is warning the public about a surge in “phantom hacker” scams that target consumers, especially senior citizens, tricking them into emptying their bank accounts. These scams involve fraudsters posing as IT support agents, bank representatives, or government officials to instill fear in victims.
In one variation, scammers pretend to be bank representatives, falsely claiming a foreign hacker has hijacked the victim’s account. They urge the victim to transfer their money to a supposed safe account, which is, in fact, a ploy to steal funds.
The FBI has received 19,000 complaints related to tech support scams in the first six months of the year, with estimated losses exceeding $542 million. A significant number of victims are over 60 years old, constituting 66% of the total losses.
The FBI advises consumers to disregard emails, texts, and pop-ups claiming their computers have been compromised, emphasizing that the US Government will never request money via wire transfer, cryptocurrency, or gift/prepaid cards. Victims are urged to report losses on the FBI’s website. Stay vigilant and cautious against such scams.