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FBI—Chicago Warns of Local Technical Support Scam

CHICAGO, IL —Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Ashley T. Johnson is warning the public about a Technical Support Fraud currently targeting older Americans in the Chicago area.

Technical Support Fraud involves a criminal posing as technical support to defraud unwitting individuals. Criminals may offer support to resolve issues such as compromised email or bank accounts, computer viruses, or software renewals. In this scam currently affecting Illinois residents, it begins with a computer intrusion.

Victims of this 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; however, this number really belongs to the scammers. Once the number is called, the scammer(s):

• Answer the phone pretending to be an employee of the computer software company. 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.

• Direct victims to download an application that allows remote computer access.

• Convince victims to withdraw money from bank/investment accounts 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.

Tips to avoid this scam:

• Avoid installing apps or programs that allow strangers remote access to your computer.

• Never call the number in a pop-up window.

• Always disconnect your device from the Internet immediately if you see a scam-related pop-up screen.

• Do not turn your computer off or reboot.

• Always be skeptical if someone tells you not to talk to your family about a money transfer.

• Always be skeptical if a “government agency” asks you to conduct business in Bitcoin.

• Always call companies, banks, or government agencies directly with numbers you have independently verified.
Always contact the FBI at ic3.gov to make a report.

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