Computer
File Photo | Photo: Vojtech Okenka / Pexels

The FBI has issued a warning to residents in the Chicagoland area about an increase in scams where criminals are posing as tech support and targeting elderly people.

The FBI said in a statement this month that technical support fraud involves a criminal posing as technical support to defraud unwitting people.

Criminals may offer support to resolve issues such as compromised email or bank accounts, computer viruses or software renewals.

The scam currently targeting Illinois residents involves computer intrusion.

Victims of the scam experience a frozen computer followed by a pop-up on their screen advising that their computer has been hacked.

The pop-up contains a number claimed to be for a well-known computer software company. The number actually belongs to the scammers.

Once the number is called, the scammer answers the phone pretending to be an employee of the computer software company, the FBI said.

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The “employee” claims that the victim’s bank accounts and social security account number have been compromised and connects the victims with other scammers impersonating bank representatives and Social Security Administration employees.

They then direct victims to download an application that allows remote computer access.

Victims are convinced to withdraw money from their bank to avoid “hackers.”

Victims are told their money will be transferred to the Social Security Administration where it will be converted to Bitcoin “for safekeeping” and returned once they are assigned a new social security account number.

The FBI said they recommend avoiding the installation of programs that give others remote access to their computer.

The FBI said computer users should disconnect their device from the internet if they see a scam pop-up screen.

Residents should always be skeptical if a “government agency” asks to conduct business in Bitcoin or if someone tells them not to talk to their family about a money transfer.

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People should call companies, banks and government agencies only using numbers that they have independently verified.

The FBI said the number of older Americans who have been victims of tech support fraud has jumped to 13,900 in 2021, which amounted to $238 million in losses.

There were 6,781 victims in 2019 and 9,429 victims in 2020.