Read more about scam related articles and be aware of tech support scammers
The FBI's Boston Division has issued a warning that as tech support fraud develops, more people are becoming victims of it and suffering financial losses as a result. Investigators have seen a new pattern where tech support con artists persuade their victims that their bank accounts have been compromised and that money needs to be transferred so the fraudsters may take control of their computers and money.
In scams involving tech assistance, con artists assume the roles of customers or support staff from legitimate, well-known tech companies. They might contact their targets via phone, email, or text message and offer to take care of problems like a hacked bank account or email, a computer infection, or a need to renew a software licence. They take control of the victims' computers and ultimately their finances after persuading the victims that their financial accounts have been compromised and that their cash need to be relocated.
In order to "safeguard" the contents of their cryptocurrency wallet, victims are frequently told to wire or transfer the money out of their brokerage or bank accounts to cryptocurrency exchanges. To get cryptocurrency owners to contact them directly and persuade them to provide login information or relinquish control of their crypto accounts, scammers will set up phoney help sites.
In order to monitor, control, and carry out acts on the victims' computers, such as opening virtual currency accounts to aid the liquidation of their real bank accounts, scammers are also encouraging victims to install free remote desktop software.
"Cybercriminals are always coming up with new ways to defraud unwary customers, and this most recent scheme has caused huge losses. The FBI Boston Division's special agent in charge, Joseph R. Bonavolonta, stated, "In some cases, we've seen victims lose their whole life savings, which is why we're imploring everyone, especially our elderly family members and friends, to heed this warning. Anyone who has been a victim of this kind of infiltration should let us know about the compromise in order to stop the predators from preying on others and possibly on you again."
Genuine customer service and technical support agents never approach clients on their own initiative. They won't demand payment right away or ask for it in cash, prepaid cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency.
A variety of tech support scams have seen a spike in victims' losses over the past five years, according to the FBI's Internet Crime Compliant Center (IC3), which gives the public a way to report crimes that were made possible by the Internet.
In 2021, 23,903 persons nationwide reported losing more than $347 million as a result of tech support scams, a 137% rise from the previous year's losses. Nearly 60% of victims reported being older than 60, and 68% of victims suffered losses. 809 victims reported losing more than $7.5 million here in the Boston Division, which includes all of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. This represents a 49% increase from the previous year. Locally, 60% of casualties were said to be older than 60, and they were responsible for 77% of the losses.
$673,339 was lost by 106 victims in Maine.
$5,386,594 was lost in Massachusetts by 521 victims.
$568,394 was lost by 117 victims in New Hampshire.
$915,714 was lost by 65 victims in Rhode Island.
Because elderly Americans are less likely to disclose fraud because they either don't know how to report it, are embarrassed by it, or are unaware that they have been cheated, the reported losses are most likely much larger.
A pop-up alert informing a Maine couple that their computer had been compromised and that there had been an attempt to access their banking information cost them $1.1 million. The pair was instructed to phone a number that they believed to be associated with Fidelity Investments, and they were also instructed to download the UltraViewer programme on their computer so that "Microsoft" and "Fidelity" agents could keep an eye out for any more fraudulent behaviour. Before cutting off communication, the con artists persuaded the couple to move money from their retirement account to Coinbase and instructed them to take out a home equity line of credit and wire money from that to Coinbase for "safekeeping."
A citizen of New Hampshire lost around $1 million after getting a pop-up alert saying she had been "hacked." She called the tech support line, and a man with a foreign accent informed her that her computer had child pornography downloaded and that several of her bank accounts had been hijacked. She was invited to download remote desktop software by the con artist who claimed to be able to "assist." Over the following six months, the victim was instructed to purchase gift cards worth tens of thousands of dollars, scratch out the numbers, and then give him the information so he could convert the money to bitcoin to safeguard her accounts. The remaining assets in her retirement account were then requested to be wired to her bank account so that she may withdraw the money.
A woman from Rhode Island who was online when she saw a pop-up warning that her iPad had been compromised and that she should contact Apple assistance lost $200,000. She was prompted to download the remote desktop programme "AnyDesk" after being informed that her ID had been used to buy child porn. To help her deal with the phoney charges, the tech support representative referred her to a person who claimed to work with Fidelity Investments. Child pornography is prohibited, she shouldn't tell anyone that it was discovered on her computer, and if she didn't deal with it, it would be connected to her social security account, according to the "Fidelity" representative. "Fidelity" informed her that they will stop the charges and send her money.
A pop-up notice warning that her computer had been "hacked" caused a Massachusetts woman to lose about $200,000 in total. When she dialled the number provided, she was directed to the "fraud" department where she learned that money had been taken from her bank account and was on its way to a gambling establishment in Europe. She was instructed to get in touch with her bank to move her money into "safe wallets" so that the hackers could not access the remaining amount of her money by the "fraud" department. The "fraud" department employee instructed her to transfer the funds from her bank, credit union, and retirement accounts into accounts at other banks in other people's names over the course of the ensuing weeks via phone calls and text messages. The "fraud" department employee warned the victim not to tell anybody about him since scammers and hackers were everywhere around her and encouraged her to tell her bank that she knew the persons she was transferring the money to.
Customer, security, or tech support organisations that are legitimate won't contact people on their own initiative.
Make sure your computer's anti-virus, security, and malware protection is up to date, and that pop-up prevention settings are turned on.
Be wary of customer service numbers that you find online. It's possible that the phone numbers included in the "sponsored" results section have been enhanced through search engine marketing.
Don't call the number if a pop-up or error message displays with it. Phone numbers are never included in error or warning messages.
Defy the urge to move hastily. The victim will be urged by criminals to take quick action to protect their device or account.
Don't grant unauthorised individuals remote access to your devices or accounts.
Don't download anything from or go to a website that someone may have directed you to.
Caller ID readings can not be trusted since thieves frequently use forged identities and numbers to appear real. Calling back unknown numbers is not advised; let them go to voicemail instead.
Never trust any business asking for personal or financial information, whether it be tech-related or not.
To check for any harmful software installed by the con artists, run the most recent virus scanning programme. Think about getting your computer cleaned by a specialist.
Use the phone number on the back of your credit card to call your financial institutions right away, or go in person. Take action to safeguard your accounts and identity.
If the con artist gained access to your device, change every password.
Expect more tries at making contact. Information from the scammers' victim databases is frequently shared.
Keep any original paperwork, emails, faxes, and conversation logs.
At your neighbourhood police station, file a police report.
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