CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is warning people in Coastal Bend about a scam aimed toward senior citizens.
The “Phantom Hacker” scam, composed of three steps, focuses on building trust for victims.
Will Jackson is a senior in the Coastal Bend. He said that he believes that this scam is foolish.
“Heartbreaking to think that these things are happening to people who are very vulnerable,” Jackson said.
Scammers posing as a tech or customer support representative from a legitimate company contacts the victim through a phone call, text, email, or a pop-up window on the victim’s computer and instructs the victim to call a number for “assistance.”
Next, scammers poses as a representative of a financial institution, such as a bank or a brokerage firm, contacts the victim. The scammer falsely informs the victim their computer and financial accounts have been accessed by a foreign hacker and victim must move their money to a “safe” third-party account, such as an account with the Federal Reserve or another U.S. government agency.
Lastly, the victim may also be contacted by a scammer posing as an employee of the Federal Reserve or other U.S. government agency.
Local resident Sandra Davis said that she is upset that people are making it harder for senior citizens to live.
“Shame on you. It seems like you would use your talents to do something lawful instead of unlawful. People work hard in this world, especially if you are retired,” Davis said.
According to the FBI, victims of the “Phantom Hacker” scams have lost the entirety of their savings, retirement, and/or investment bank accounts after providing the scammer with their account information.
FBI Public Affairs Officer Connor Hagan said that oftentimes when people lose money to these hackers, it is not replaced.
“The money that is taken, especially if that money is transferred into a cryptocurrency or gift cards, that money is very difficult to get back once it’s been transferred to those two avenues especially,” Hagan said.
The FBI added that almost 50% of the reported victims were over the age of 60 years old.
“I can just imagine all the anxiety and the panics it’s going to have on someone’s mental health and it’s sad to say, I don’t think the guys really do care,” Jackson said.
The FBI said some tips to protect yourself from these scams are to not click on pop-ups, do not download unknown software, do not contact phone numbers from pop-ups, and do not provide your bank account information with anyone over the phone.
Victims of a “Phantom Hacker” scam should report any suspicious activity to a local FBI field office, or click here.