The FBI recently issued a warning about a scam they call “The Phantom Hacker.” The scam starts with a pop-up on your computer, a text message, email or phone call from the scammer posing as a legitimate tech company informing the victim that here appears to be a problem with their computer and that they need to call a tech support number for assistance. When the targeted victim calls the phony tech support number he or she is advised that in order to resolve the problem they need to download a software program that gives the scammer remote access to the victim’s computer. The scammer then informs the victim that their computer has been compromised and that they should then go online to their bank account to see if any funds have been withdrawn by the fictional hacker. The truth is that the victim’s bank account had not, at that point, been hacked, but now through the remote access provided to the scammer, the victim’s bank account is now identified to the scammer. The phony tech support scammer then informs the targeted victim that he or she will soon get a call form their bank’s fraud department with further instructions.
At this point the targeted victim gets a call from another scammer posing as an employee of the bank’s fraud department who tells the targeted victim that their bank account was hacked by a foreign hacker and that in order to protect their funds they must move their money to a safe third party account with the Federal Reserve. The scammer then instructs the targeted victim to wire the money to a “safe” account provided by the scammer. Unfortunately, the money is far from safe and the account to which the funds are wired is an account of the scammer which is often in another country. Once the funds have been wired, it is all but impossible to retrieve them.
Whenever you get a pop-up, email, phone call or text message that appears to tell you that you have a security problem with your computer, you should never click on any links contained in the message or call the telephone number provided. Real tech companies do not use pop-ups, phone calls or text messages to tell you that you have suffered a security breach.
If you call the scammers in response to concerns about your security, they often ask for you to enable them to get remote access to your computer to assess the problem. Providing remote access to anyone to your computer can lead to a myriad of problems including identity theft and the downloading of ransomware. Neither AOL, Yahoo, Apple, Microsoft or any of the other tech companies ever ask for remote access to your computer to fix problems.
No bank will ever ask you to wire funds out of your account to protect your funds. Wiring funds is a favorite method of payment for scammers because once funds have been wired, they are all but impossible to get back.
If you have any questions that you may have a problem with your bank account, merely call your bank directly at a phone number that you know is legitimate and not the number provided in communications such as emails, text messages or phone calls which are most likely from scammers.
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