Harrisburg, PA - Treasurer Stacy Garrity today warned Pennsylvanians that scammers are targeting senior citizens with a new scam called “The Phantom Hacker,” which involves convincing victims that their financial accounts have been hacked.
“We have to constantly be on guard against scammers. I urge everyone to be extremely cautious when receiving unsolicited texts, phone calls, or emails which could lead scammers straight to your bank account – and to think twice before providing any personal information. If you are at all suspicious that someone may be trying to scam you, call your financial institution directly.”
Pennsylvania State Treasurer, Stacy Garrity
According to the FBI, perpetrators of the Phantom Hacker scheme gain the trust of victims in three phases: First, they pose as a tech support representative and convince the victim to download a piece of software. Then they call a second time, pretending to be from the victim’s bank or another financial institution. Finally, they claim to be an employee of a federal agency.
The goal of the scam is to convince people to move their money into an “alias” account, where the scammers can steal it. The scam can include emails, texts, phone calls, and even letters sent via the U.S. Postal Service.
The FBI has prepared this graphic to summarize the Phantom Hacker scam.
According to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), 19,000 complaints related to tech support scams were submitted between January and June of this year, including more than $542 million in estimated victim losses. Nearly half of the victims were over 60 years old.
Never respond to requests for information unless you initiated the request. Victims are urged to report any fraudulent or suspicious activities to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov. Suspected fraud can also be reported at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.