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Surge in 'Phantom Hacker' Scams Targeting US Senior Citizens, FBI Warns


October 03, 2023

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Surge in 'Phantom Hacker' Scams Targeting US Senior Citizens, FBI Warns

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently warned about the rise in "phantom hacker" scams targeting senior citizens in the United States.

The term, although sophisticated in name, represents an evolved and multi-layered version of "traditional" tech support scams.

These scams comprise a combination of impersonation scams including fake tech support,  government officials and representatives at pseudo-financial institutions to gain the victim's trust.

The targets of these scams experience devastating financial losses. The scammers create the illusion that they are safeguarding their assets when, in reality, victims are unwittingly handing over the keys to their financial security.

The Reconnaissance Phase

The scam generally starts with a fake bank representative or another authority figure reaching out to potential victims. This initial contact acts as a scouting operation to assess the financial worth of the target. Should the victim have a significant amount in their accounts, they are further pursued.

They will be instructed to wait for contact from a "bank administrator," another scammer, who then advises them to transfer all their funds into a so-called "secure account," which is actually controlled by the perpetrators.

Government Impersonation: A New Tactic

There's a further escalation for victims who prove resistant and are not easily convinced. Another scammer, posing as a government official intervenes, sometimes even providing fake official documentation to bolster the credibility of the scam.

Phantom Hacker Scam (FBI)

According to the FBI's public service announcement, "Almost 50% of the victims reported to IC3 were over 60 years-old, comprising 66% of the total losses. As of August 2023, losses have already exceeded those in 2022 by 40%."

FBI's Proactive Measures

To combat the rise of these scams, the FBI has provided a series of recommendations:

  • Avoid clicking unsolicited pop-ups, links, or attachments
  • Don't contact the telephone number received via pop-up, text, or email
  • Never download software upon the request of an unknown individual who contacts you
  • Never allow unknown individuals to control your computer (or other devices) remotely or physically
  • Remember that the US government will never request money via wire transfer to foreign accounts, gift/prepaid cards, or crypto

In closing, the FBI urges the public to report suspicious activities to their local FBI offices and provide as much detail as possible to help counteract these sophisticated threats.

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  • Antispam module that filters irrelevant messages in your local email client's inbox
  • Comprehensive, 24/7 detection and protection against viruses, worms, Trojans, zero-day exploits, ransomware, spyware, rootkits, and other e-threats
  • Anti-fraud technology that warns you whenever you access websites where you might get scammed
  • Credit report monitoring component that lets you know of any changes in your credit files
  • Real-time fraud monitoring module that alerts you nearly instantly when institutions request copies of your credit report




Vlad's love for technology and writing created rich soil for his interest in cybersecurity to sprout into a full-on passion. Before becoming a Security Analyst, he covered tech and security topics.

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