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"The Phantom Hacker" Scam Strikes San Tan Valley Residents: FBI Phoenix Issues Warning

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San Tan Valley residents are being urged to exercise caution as a new scam called "The Phantom Hacker" gains traction. As reported by FBI Phoenix, this elaborate scam sees fraudsters posing as various officials, including tech support and government representatives, with the aim of deceiving victims into transferring their life savings under the guise of "protecting" their assets.

Here's How the Scam Unfolds:

  1. Tech Support Deception: The victim receives unsolicited contact—whether via phone call, email, text, or even a computer pop-up—from someone posing as a representative of a well-known tech company. The scammer then persuades the victim to grant remote access to their computer, feigning a routine virus scan. The victim is then tricked into believing that hackers are accessing their financial information. To further the ruse, the scammer informs the victim that they will be contacted by their bank's fraud department.
  2. Fake Financial Institution Alert: The next call or contact comes from another scammer pretending to be from the victim's bank or other financial institution. The victim is falsely informed that foreign hackers have infiltrated their accounts. Under this pretense, the scammer convinces the victim to move their funds to a "secure" government account. This often involves wire transfers, cash handovers, or even cryptocurrency transactions.  Lately, some victims are being instructed to open up a separate bank account at a separate bank in order to initiate the transfer.
  3. The Government Impersonation: Some victims, growing wary, are then contacted by scammers imitating the U.S. Government or the Federal Reserve. These criminals may provide counterfeit official documents to reinforce their claims. They persistently emphasize the urgency of transferring funds to safeguard them.

Dewayne Castillo, a local computer expert from MyBizNow, commented on the situation, "We've been seeing a sharp rise in this kind of scam recently. The main goal of these fraudsters isn't to compromise or damage your computer system but to trick you into revealing your login credentials. They're targeting your personal accounts, including bank accounts." Castillo urges residents who suspect they're being targeted by such scams to immediately shut down their computers and reach out for professional assistance. "If you find yourself in this situation, don't panic and purchase a new system. Simply shut down your computer and give me a call. Remember, they are looking for your assistance to grant them access to your information, not your hardware."

How to Safeguard Yourself:

Residents of San Tan Valley and surrounding areas are urged to:

  • Avoid clicking on or engaging with unexpected pop-ups, emails, or text messages.
  • Never download software upon request from an unknown caller.
  • Never grant control of your computer to unsolicited contacts.
  • Remember that the U.S. Government will never ask for money via wire transfers, cryptocurrency, or prepaid cards.

The FBI encourages those who believe they may have fallen victim to such a scam, or who have encountered suspicious activity related to it, to report it immediately to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

Stay vigilant, San Tan Valley, and always prioritize the security of your personal and financial information.
Image credit: https://www.fbi.gov
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Tuesday, 16 July 2024

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