Local tech support scams are on the rise, FBI says
“In some cases, we’ve seen victims lose their entire life savings.”
People are falling victim to scammers pretending to be tech support, and they’re losing millions of dollars.
FBI Boston Investigators are noticing a rising trend in which fraudsters, posing as customer service representatives from tech companies, convince victims that their finances are compromised. Victims are told to move their assets, and the scammers gain control.
Officials said this is also happening through cryptocurrency transfers and malware downloads.
“Cybercriminals are constantly coming up with new ways to rip off unsuspecting consumers, and this latest tactic has resulted in staggering losses,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston Division. “In some cases, we’ve seen victims lose their entire life savings which is why we are urging everyone, especially our aging family members and friends, to heed this warning.”
The FBI’s Boston Division, which includes all of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, reported more than $7.5 million in financial losses from 809 victims in 2021. The scams are disproportionately affecting an older crowd, the FBI said — victims over 60 years old accounted for 77% of the losses.
“The reported losses are most likely much higher because older Americans are less likely to report fraud due to the fact that they either don’t know how to report it, are embarrassed, or don’t know they have been scammed,” the department wrote.
Recent incidents cited by the FBI include a Maine couple losing $1.1 million due to a fake Fidelity fraud, a New Hampshire woman losing $1 million after believing she was hacked, and a Rhode Island woman losing $200,000 after a scammer told her that her iPad was compromised. All of the cases originated with a fake pop-up alert.
To protect yourself from tech support scams, the FBI offered a series of tips, including updating anti-virus software, ignoring phone numbers on pop-up ads, and avoiding any company that may ask for personal information. More suggestions are available here.
If you believe you are a victim of a similar scam, contact your bank, change your passwords, and file a police report. You can also file a complaint directly with the FBI here.
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