Attorney General Todd Rokita today warned Hoosiers that complex forms of “phantom hacker” scams are on the rise — a new three-step hoax in which fraudsters pose as tech-support representatives, financial institutions, and government officials claiming foreign hackers have accessed their account.
“Cybercriminals keep coming up with new and elaborate schemes to deceive Hoosiers,” Attorney General Rokita said. “We work tirelessly with law enforcement to bring these criminals to justice, but we are equally committed to educating consumers on how to spot these scams and avoid falling prey to them.”
This latest trick, “the phantom hacker” often targets older victims with three clever steps:
1. Hackers pose as a tech support representative from a legitimate technology company offering “assistance.”
- Scammers target soon-to-be victims through calls, texts, emails, or pop-up windows instructing them to call a phone number for “assistance.”
- Scammers persuade victims to download software — enabling remote access and pretend to run a virus scan of their computer.
- After informing victims that their computer has been hacked, the fake “tech support” rep instructs them to open their financial accounts to determine whether any unauthorized charges have occurred.
- After identifying the most lucrative account to target, these con artists tell victims to expect a call from the financial institution corresponding to that account.
2. Hackers pose as a representative from a financial institution
- Scammer falsely confirms the victim that their accounts have been hacked by a foreign entity and they must move their money to a safe third-party account.
- Victims are directed to transfer money via wire transfer, cash, or cryptocurrency.
- In reality, victims are sending money directly to the fraudsters.
3. Hackers may pose as U.S. Government Agency
- If victim becomes suspicious, scammers may send a letter or email on fake government letterhead to convince the victim their funds are not safe.
The FBI, which provided information used in this release, reports that it received 19,000 complaints related to tech support scams between January and June 2023 — with estimated victim losses exceeding $542 million.
Hoosiers should follow these tips to protect themselves:
- Do not click on unsolicited pop-ups, links sent via text message, 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.
If you believe you are a victim of a scam attempt, you may contact Attorney General Rokita’s staff by visiting gov/attorneygeneral or calling 1-800-382-5516. You also may report suspected phantom hacker scams to the FBI at www.ic3.gov.