FBI warns elderly of multi-million dollar tech support scams targeting elderly people

The FBI is warning the public about a nationwide uptick in the multi-million dollar 'Phantom Hacker' scam that's targeting the elderly.

FOX 26 Houston is now on the FOX LOCAL app available through Apple TV, Amazon FireTV, Roku and Google Android TV!

The FBI says thieves stole more than $580 million from elderly citizens last year from Tech and Customer Support schemes, which were the most common type of fraud reported with 17,8000 complaints filed in 2022.

The FBI says over time, these scams have become more sophisticated. 

Investigators say the scheme starts with a call, text, email or pop-up window on your computer and asks a person to click on a link to download software to fix an alleged tech issue. The FBI says don’t fall for those lies, especially if the other person is prompting you about the problem. They say often times these hackers will attempt to get a person to transfer money or cryptocurrency in a urgent manner in order to be "protected" from a made-up threat. 

The FBI say the elderly are particularly vulnerable.

Danny Hernandez is the Executive Director at Brookdale Senior Living in Memorial City. He's has worked with the elderly community for nearly 30 years and says he's seen multiple seniors fall victim to similar scams, including his own family. 

"I believe a lot of times it’s because they’re lonely. And when somebody calls them and going to be nice, asking them about their day, how things are going, I think it causes them to let their guard down," Hernandez said. 

"Make sure that they never give money or personal information to anyone that they don’t know or calls that they never initiated, because that’s what they’re going after; they’re going after your money and once we give them access to that money, your financial institutions, it’s in their hands and it’s very hard to get back," said Christina Garza, a Public Affairs Officer with the FBI Houston Field Office.

MORE SCAMS: BBB warns of online shopping discount code scam reported by TikTok users


  • Do not click on unsolicited pop-ups, links sent via text messages, or email links or attachments.
  • Do not contact the telephone number provided in a pop-up, text, or email.
  • Do not download software at the request of an unknown individual who contacted you.
  • Do not allow an unknown individual who contacted you to have control of your computer.
  • The US Government will never request you send money via wire transfer to foreign accounts, cryptocurrency, or gift/prepaid cards.


The FBI requests victims report these fraudulent or suspicious activities to their local FBI field office and the FBI IC3 at www.ic3.gov. Be sure to include as much information as possible including: 

      - The name of the person or company that contacted you

      - Methods of communication used, to include websites, emails, and telephone numbers.

      - The bank account number(s) where the funds were wired to and the recipient's name(s).