FBI warns public about increase in tech support scams

PITTSBURGH — The Federal Bureau of Investigation division in Pittsburgh is warning the public of a new tech support scam that is leading to financial losses.

Scammers are disguising themselves as tech support and convincing people their bank accounts are at risk. They then tell their victims they have to move their money to a different location in order to protect it. As the victims do this, the scammer gains control over their computers and finances.

Agents are saying the number of people falling for this scam is increasing.

Victims are often taken advantage of in a few different ways. Some are directed to a wire or tricked into transferring their money to fake websites. Other times, scammers will ask victims to install certain software onto their computers, which can allow the scammer to monitor and control the device.

“We live in a target-rich environment with major companies, startups, hospitals, colleges and universities. Technology is integral to our everyday routines but it’s also being used as a means of attack,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall. “Cybercriminals are taking advantage of this and using the internet to expand operations and target innocent victims. We will use every tool at our disposal to combat all forms of cybercrime. If you have been a victim of a tech support scheme, or any cybercrime, report it immediately so that we can hold these criminals accountable and prevent them from targeting others.”

Members of the FBI say it is important to remember a real tech support worker will not create unsolicited contact with someone and will not ask for immediate pay.

There were 204 victims of this scam in Western Pennsylvania, including Allegheny, Butler, Beaver and Washington counties. One Pennsylvania man lost more than $1 million in this scam, authorities say.

In order to avoid these scams, people should set up anti-virus software on their devices, be cautious of unknown numbers or emails and unwanted pop-ups, and be wary of who they share their private information with.

Anyone who falls victim to this scam or a similar scam should change the passwords of all their devices, contact their bank, and file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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