Facepalm: The FBI has issued an alert regarding a new type of online fraud that involves perpetrators requesting victims to send money through shipping companies. This tactic combines digital and analog methods, and could make even the most gullible adults have a doubt or two.
Online scams are usually finalized once the victim sends money via bank transfer, cryptocurrency, gift card codes, or other kinds of digital transactions. The FBI is now warning against a novel variation to this traditional scheme, where fraud attempts come with instructions to send actual cash to a given address.
The FBI alert states that there has been a recent nationwide increase in technical support scams specifically targeting "older adults." Scammers pretend to be tech support representatives, reaching out to potential victims through phone calls, text or email messages, or even pop-up windows on their PCs, asking the targets to call a provided phone number.
The scammers then inform the target that they are owed a refund, but the only way to receive the money is to download a remote assistance program. After the download is complete and a connection is established, the victim is persuaded to log into their bank account – the very same account to which the scammers are purportedly sending the refund.
But the scammers claim that the money sent was a larger sum than intended. As a result, they ask the target to send back the excess money, or else they will lose their "job." However, the requested money must be shipped in the form of cash bundles wrapped in magazine paper.
The FBI provides some useful (albeit trivial) tips to prevent this kind of fraud, such as avoiding downloading software when asked to do so by unknown individuals, never allowing a stranger to remotely access your computer, and refraining from clicking on unsolicited pop-ups, links sent via text messages, or email links.
The agency also points to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a web service where potential fraud victims can file a complaint or report suspicious activity.