**Related video above: Hackers steal from Stark residents in Facebook scam**
The so-called “Phantom Hacker” scam isn’t just a one-stop cash grab, instead the scammers pretend to be officials from multiple sectors working to convince people their financial accounts have been hacked and to give over pertinent information.
“These scammers are cold and calculated,” FBI Cleveland Special Agent in Charge Gregory Nelsen said in a statement. “They are targeting older members of our communities
in Northern Ohio and across the nation, who are particularly mindful of potential risks to their
life savings. The criminals are using the victims’ own attentiveness against them.”
Those who’ve been taken in by this scam are far from alone. Last year, consumers reportedly lost nearly $8.8 million due to fraud or scams, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The Phantom Hacker scam usually starts out with a scammer pretending to be a technical support representative sending a text or email or computer pop-up, prompting a would-be victim to call a number to make sure their assets are protected.
In a press release, the FBI offered the following tips to avoid falling prey to this scam and many others:
- 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 or prepaid cards
For anyone affected, the FBI implores victims to set embarrassment aside and reach out to its Internet Crime Complaint Center immediately to report the fraud. Find out more right here.