INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Attorney General’s Office is warning Hoosiers of complex forms of “phantom hacker” scams that are on the rise.
Attorney General Todd Rokita said it’s 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(s).
“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.”
The latest trick, “the phantom hacker” often targets older victims with three clever steps:
- Hackers pose as tech support from a legitimate technology company offering “assistance.”
- Scammers target soon-to-be victims through calls, texts, emails or pop-up windows to call a phone number;
- Scammers persuade victims to download software enabling remote access and pretending a virus scans of their computer;
- After informing victims of a “hack,” the tech support instructs them to open their financial accounts to determine unauthorized charges;
- After identifying the most lucrative account to target, the con artists will tell victims to expect a call from the financial institution corresponding to that account.
- Hackers pose as a representative from a financial institution
- Scammer falsely confirms the victim of 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.
- Hackers may pose as U.S. government agency
- If the 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 provided information used in Wednesday’s release. There were reported 19,000 complaints related to tech support scams between January and June 2023. The estimated victim losses exceeded $542 million.
Hoosiers can follow several 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.