Scammers now asking victims to send cash wrapped in magazines

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned of the rise in tech support scams where criminals ask victims to send money wrapped in magazines via shipping companies.

According to the FBI, this new scheme is different from the usual modus operandi where scammers ask victims for bank transfers, cryptocurrencies, or gift cards. The scam is quite elaborate but successful in deceiving the gullible elderly.

The scheme works like this. Tech support scammers usually initiate contact with older adult victims through a phone call, text, email, or pop-up window purporting to be support from a legitimate company.

The scammer then informs the victim of fraudulent activity or potential refund for a subscription service. Subsequent emails, pop-ups, and texts contain a phone number for the victim to call for assistance, says the FBI.

Once the entrapped victim calls the number, a scammer tells them that they’re eligible for a refund. However, the only way the money can allegedly be sent is by connecting to the victim's computer and depositing it into their account.

The scammer proceeds to tell the victim they can assist with the refund and convinces the victim to download a software program allowing the scammer remote access to the victim's computer. Once a connection is established, the victim is convinced to log on to their bank account.

And here’s the catch. The scammer then supposedly transfers an amount to the victim's bank account but "accidentally" deposits a much larger amount than intended. The scammer points this "error" out and tells the victim to return the extra money, or the poor scammer will lose their job.

The criminal instructs the victim to send the money in cash, wrapped in a magazine(s), or similar method of concealment, via a shipping company to a name and address provided by the scammer.

“Most recently, scammers have instructed victims to ship packages containing money to pharmacies and retail businesses that are equipped to receive shipping company packages,” said the FBI.

The Bureau quite obviously strongly advises to never download software at the request of an unknown individual. This person should also not be allowed to take control of your computer.

Pop-ups, links sent via text messages, or suspicious email links and attachments shouldn’t be clicked on, and the telephone numbers provided should not be called. Finally, sending cash via mail or shipping companies has never been a good idea anyway.

It’s not clear how many people have lost money due to this particular scam. But the FBI said recently that in 2022, victims over the age of 60 lost a staggering $3.1 billion to scammers who prey on older people’s desire for companionship, love, or financial security.

Millions of seniors in America are indeed targeted each year in elder fraud schemes like bogus lottery and romance scams. Of course, there are numerous ways to rid the elderly of their money – a recent video released by the FBI illustrates how quickly an elder fraud scam can part victims from their money.

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