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According to the FBI, there has been an increase in “phantom hacker” scams nationwide, a type of fraud that “has a significant impact on seniors” who often lose their entire checking, savings, retirement or investment accounts as a result of such crimes .
“Phantom hacker” scams are an evolution of tech support scams, a form of cybercrime.
According to a recent FBI study, technical support fraud losses increased by 40% in August 2023 over the same period in 2022 Public Service Notice. The total dollar loss during this period was not disclosed.
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Half of the victims were over 60 and accounted for 66% of the total financial losses, the FBI said.
Older adults generally have accumulated a larger nest egg than younger age groups, making them a more lucrative target for criminals. Older adults are also “particularly aware of the potential risks to their life savings,” said Gregory Nelsen, FBI special agent in charge in Cleveland. said in a statement.
“These scammers are cold and calculated,” Nelsen said. “The criminals use the attention of the victims against themselves,” he added.
“Phantom hacker” crimes are complex.
First, scammers typically pose as computer technicians from well-known companies and convince victims that there is a serious computer problem, such as a virus, and that their financial accounts may also be at risk from foreign hackers.
Accomplices then pose as officials from financial institutions or the U.S. government who convince victims to move their money from supposedly compromised accounts to new “safe” accounts under the guise of protecting their assets.
None of this is true.
“In reality, there never was a foreign hacker and the money is now completely controlled by the fraudsters,” a recent report said Notice from the FBI office in Cleveland.
About 19,000 victims of tech support scams filed complaints with the FBI between January 2023 and June 2023. Estimated losses totaled more than $542 million, according to the FBI said.
In comparison, there were a total of about 33,000 complaints and $807 million in losses in 2022, according to the FBI Data.
The FBI has recommended five “don’ts” to help consumers avoid this type of scam: