Two years ago, Marjorie Bloom, a retired widow, suffered a devastating loss of $661,000 in a tech scam. The unfortunate incident occurred in 2021 when a man masquerading as an investigator from her bank convinced her to liquidate her life savings.
According to CNBC, the scam unfolded when a person claiming to be a fraud investigator associated with PNC Bank, where Bloom held her account, approached her. He spun a tale of criminals actively targeting her information, instilling fear. He insisted that she urgently transfer her savings into cryptocurrency to thwart these alleged criminals.
Adding to the deception, the imposter instructed Bloom to keep this financial move a secret to avoid tipping off the criminals. Regrettably, she adhered to this directive, preventing her children from intervening and potentially assisting her in recovering the stolen funds.
Tech scams have regrettably become commonplace, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation reporting a 49 percent surge in losses from cybercrime over the past year. Furthermore, losses from tech scams experienced a staggering 137 percent increase from 2020 to 2021.
Tech scams, also known as tech support scams, involve scammers posing as tech or customer support representatives to gain access to sensitive information. This FBI report revealed that nearly fifty percent of tech scam victims were over 60 in 2022, resulting in approximately $588 million in losses for these older adults.
Cryptocurrency frequently plays a role in these scams due to its capacity to facilitate the swift transfer of substantial sums of money while maintaining the anonymity of the perpetrators, making it easier for them to evade detection.
To protect against falling victim to similar scams, the FBI recommends adhering to the following guidelines:
Ensure that all devices’ antivirus, security, and malware protection are up to date.
Disable or minimize pop-ups on all devices. Avoid calling if a pop-up or error message contains a phone number.
Do not engage in unsolicited contact.
Be cautious when answering calls, as scammers can manipulate caller ID readings to appear legitimate. Only respond to calls from known contacts.
Only utilize customer support numbers found on verified websites. Numbers obtained through sponsored search results online may not be accurate.
Resist the pressure to act hastily. Criminals often try to induce fear responses and impair reasoning by insisting that victims act swiftly.
Refrain from downloading software or visiting websites you are directed to by anyone you do not know.
Do not grant anyone remote access to your devices or accounts unless you know their trustworthiness.
Never disclose personal or financial information to any tech support personnel.
If you or someone you know falls victim to a tech scam or a similar crime, promptly contact your state’s consumer protection services for assistance and guidance.