top of page

Did you know the new scam named "Phantom Hacker"?

Updated: Apr 8

The “Phantom hacker” scam is a recently identified social engineering technique that primarily targets seniors. Unveiled in late September 2023, this scam has evolved from previously known social engineering scams, with a staggering $540 million has already lost to it.

Cybercriminals favor this approach, as it gives them access to the life savings that many seniors have accumulated over the years.

Procédé de la cyberattaque appelé "phantom hacking"

What is new in this attack?

This scam unfolds in three distinct stages:


Impersonation of Technical Support: A cybercriminal poses as a tech support agent. Often, they will craft a fake identity, presenting “proof” of their position to earn the victim’s trust. They coax the victim into installing remote access software under the pretext of checking for the target device’s vulnerabilities. The targeted individual is then informed that their computer is at risk of being hacked. A pop-up alert may appear, urging immediate contact with a technical representative. This pop-up is presented as evidence of a compromised system. Eventually, the criminal asks to inspect the individual’s financial accounts - purportedly to check for unauthorized activity, but ostensibly to gauge the potential for monetary gain. They reassure the victim by saying that a representative from their bank’s fraud department will be in touch soon, enhancing the illusion of legitimacy.


Posing as the Fraud Department: The scammer then impersonates a representative from the victim’s bank’s fraud department. This could be the same individual as before, or a new accomplice within their group. They further build credibility by mentioning that a government agency representative will soon contact the victim, typically by phone, to secure their assets.


Pretending to be a Government Agent: The final act sees the cybercriminal posing as a government representative. They instruct the victim to transfer their savings to a “government-secured” for protection, which is, in reality, controlled by the scammer. By this point, the cybercriminal has sent convincing emails with transfer instructions, and once the victim complies, their savings are gone.

This cyberattack in figures:

Why is this so effective?

You might wonder, with its similarities to other scams, why is it becoming more prevalent? Its multi-phase approach continually strengthens the victim’s trust, making them more susceptible as each stage progresses.

How can you protect yourself ?

  • Avoid Untrusted Remote Access: Never download remote access software if requested by a stranger, whether contacted via phone or email.

  • Be Skeptical of Unsolicited Contacts: A legitimate fraud investigator or government official will never initiate contact asking for money or bank transfers!

  • Don’t Click Suspicious Links: Avoid unsolicited links in emails, text messages, or clicking on pop-up windows. If your bank’s “representative” asks for transfers to a new account, always double-check with your bank directly.

  • Guard Your Personal Info: Never share banking or personal details, especially with unfamiliar parties. Always err on the side of caution and consult with your bank if in doubt.

  • Keep Software Updated: Regularly update your software and run antivirus scans. Check at least once a week.

  • Spread Awareness: Inform those around you, especially seniors, about this scam and protective measures.

  • Stay Calm: Scammers will use urgency to their advantage. Always take a moment to think and verify before acting on “urgent” requests.

  • Verify Phone Numbers: Never use phone numbers provided in unsolicited emails, text messages, or popups. Instead, use official channels to contact organizations.

Raising awareness about scams like this one is vital. Social engineering attacks prey on human trust, making prevention essential. Always approach unsolicited contacts with skepticism. If in doubt, it’s better to double-check than to regret later. Be vigilant, and stay safe!

Personne âgée regardant son téléphone


bottom of page