FBI Alerts Public of Increased 'phantom hacker' Scams
Category: Threat Actor Activity | Industry: Global | Source: FBI
A public service announcement released by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) alerts a surge in activity from a scam aimed at accumulating funds. According to the advisory, the scam recognized as "Phantom Hacker" scams, is an evolution of more general tech support scams, layering imposter tech support, financial institution, and government personas to enhance the trust victims place in the scammers and identify the most lucrative accounts to target.
"The 'Phantom Hacker' scam unfolds in three phases: first, scammers pose as tech support representatives, then as financial service agents, and finally as members of the US government. During this process, scammers convince victims to install remote access software, claiming they need access to review potential unauthorized transactions on the victim's financial accounts. If a lucrative account is identified, the scammers escalate the ruse by contacting the victim in the other financial service and government personas. This coercion aims to make victims transfer their funds into accounts controlled by the attackers, under the pretense that their own accounts are unsafe.
The financial impact of these campaigns has been catastrophic as losses have exceeded $542 million with several victims reported to have lost a significant portion of their life savings. Senior citizens have unfortunately been the main victims of the scam. "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%," the FBI reports.