“Tech support” scammers are getting more audacious, and are now even sending couriers to victims’ houses to pick up the cash and various precious metals, the FBI has warned.
In its alert, the FBI says the scammers mostly target the elderly and other technologically unsavvy people, sometimes impersonating a bank, sometimes a major IT company, sometimes the US government, and sometimes all of the above (in a multi-layered attack).
The victims would be informed that their financial accounts were either targeted, or already compromised, and that their money wasn’t safe any more. To protect their funds, the victims were enticed to liquidate all, and either withdraw the cash, or acquire precious metals such as gold or silver.
Millions of dollars in damages
The attackers would convince the victims that they can keep their belongings safe, and should the victims agree, the attackers would send a courier to pick up the belongings. They would even direct their victims to authenticate the transaction with the courier using a passcode, such as the serial number of a US dollar bill, the FBI added.
Obviously, that would be the last time the victims would ever see their money or their gold.
While one might think that the scam is obvious and that most people would never fall for the ruse, the campaign seems to be quite successful. The FBI says that from May to December 2023, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) saw an uptick in this activity with aggregated losses of over $55 million.
Protecting against these attacks means not rushing into action blindly. The US Government and other legitimate businesses will never ask citizens to purchase gold or precious metals. Also, all consumers should keep their data, especially home addresses, private.
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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.