FBI in Phoenix warns of rising ‘The Phantom Hacker’ scam
Oct 18, 2023, 4:05 AM
PHOENIX — FBI Phoenix is warning the public of a rising scam that centers around perpetrators convincing victims that foreign hackers have got into their bank accounts.
The “The Phantom Hacker” scam has been observed by the FBI on several occasions. Some victims have lost their entire fortune, according to a press release from the FBI.
What should the public know about ‘The Phantom Hacker’ scam?
The scam is usually done in three steps, according to the FBI.
The first part begins with the scammer reaching out to a victim, claiming they are a customer service representative from a tech company. The scammer will then tell the victim to call another customer assistance number for help.
Once that call happens, a scammer will tell the victim to download a remote access program. The scammer will gain access to the victim’s computer and claim, after running a fake virus scan, that the computer is at risk of being hacked.
The scammer follows up by asking the victim to open bank accounts, a ploy to allow scammers decide which accounts are best to target.
The second part involves a scammer, posing as a representative for whichever financial institute the victim is with, calling and saying their accounts have been accessed by a foreign hacker.
The scammer will tell the victim to move their money to a safe third-party account. The transfer will be asked to be done via a wire transfer, cash or crypto to overseas recipients.
Victims are not supposed to tell anyone the reason they are transferring the money, according to the FBI.
The final step involves the victim being contacted by someone posing as the Federal Reserve or another government agency.
Scammers will send an email or a letter to suspicious victims on supposed government letterhead to quell uneasiness.
The transactions will then be completed, costing victims valuable time and money.
Here’s how to protect yourself from “The Phantom Hacker” scam
The FBI offers these tips to not get duped by this latest scam:
• Do not click on unsolicited pop-ups, links sent via text messages, or email links or attachments.
• Do not contact the telephone number provided in a pop-up, text or email.
• Do not download software at the request of an unknown individual who contacted you.
• Do not allow an unknown individual who contacted you to have control of your computer.
• The U.S. government will never request you send money to them via wire transfer, cryptocurrency, or gift/prepaid cards.
Scams can be reported to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) online.