Fraudsters are impersonating technical support reps and persuading victims to conduct wire transfers, the FBI warns
A recent FBI consumer alert warns of scammers impersonating computer technical support representatives to defraud unwary victims.
The law enforcement agency said that it has observed the nationwide swindle since October and that fraudsters use email and phone calls to contact victims (mostly elderly) and obtain their personal and banking information. The fraudsters announce that a subscription worth between 300 and 500 USD is soon to be renewed.
“Scammers target their potential victims through email, sending elaborate messages from email domains that seem authentic and claiming to provide a form of technical services, such as those that would be found at major electronic store chains that sell electronics, computers, and other digital devices,” the FBI explained. “In this case, the scammers claim to aid in securing a refund through remote access to the victim's computer.”
“The subject line of the scam email hints at a pending renewal of a subscription, generally within the next 24 hours, for a service such as a computer protection plan or a warranty. Within the body of the email, the scammers will indicate the specific service to be renewed with a price commonly in the range of $300 to $500, provoking a sense of urgency in the victims to contact them and provide information for a refund.”
Recipients of the bogus messages are encouraged to use the contact information from the email to “cancel” the subscription and receive a full refund. Upon reaching the scammers, victims are asked to install remote desktop software so technical support representative can process the requested refund.
“Once access to the victim computer is obtained, scammers will indicate that they are refunding the subscription renewal amount to the victim's bank account and persuade the victims to verify that the refund was successful by logging into their bank accounts,” the agency said.
“When the victim accesses the bank account, the scammer can obtain the logon credentials. Once the victim accesses the bank account, the scammer can lock the victim out of their computer or place a black screen as they conduct unauthorized wire transfers to external bank accounts. Alternatively, the scammers will deposit money into the victims account as a ‘mistake’ and ask the victim to correct it through a victim-initiated wire transfer or by providing additional banking information, which is then used to empty the victim bank accounts through wire transfers, and usually to foreign bank accounts.”
The law enforcement agency recommends following these steps to protect against scams:
- Don’t panic and resist the pressure to act quickly
- Never use wire transfers to foreign banks at the instructions of someone you only spoke to via phone or email
- Don’t download remote access software to give unknown individuals access to your device
- Never conduct banking activity while providing remote access to your PC
- Contact your bank or financial institution if you are being charged for a service you never requested
- Never give your personal info and financial information to strangers
If you’ve fallen victim to this type of scam, file a complaint via IC3 at www.ic3.gov.
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