Beware the Surge in “Phantom Hacker” Scams


A “Phantom Hacker” scam involving malevolent individuals posing as tech experts via phone, text, or email alleges that the victim’s computer or electronic device has fallen victim to a virus or hacking. And they are on the increase.

“Phantom hacking” involves scammers posing as tech experts or representatives from reputable financial or banking organizations who contact victims, claiming device compromise through tactics like phone calls, texts, or emails. They induce fear, alleging viruses or hacks, aiming to prompt immediate actions—providing personal data, money transfers, or buying valuables—to protect assets supposedly. Exploiting urgency and trust, scammers deceive victims into divulging sensitive details or actions, benefiting financially. This scam preys on cybersecurity concerns, urging vigilance, skepticism, and verification of unsolicited claims before acting.

Often, these ill-intentioned scammers coerce victims into transferring funds to an account purportedly secure but actually under the scammer’s control. In another iteration, victims are persuaded to purchase high-value items like gold, later collected by a supposed courier for “safekeeping. Each instance followed a familiar pattern—the scammer claimed the victim’s device was compromised, masquerading as a government official and manipulating the victims into buying gold to safeguard their assets. Subsequently, couriers were dispatched to collect the purchased gold, resulting in significant financial losses for the victims.

Reputable financial institutions and law enforcement officials will never:

  • Instruct individuals to purchase valuable items like gold, advocating entrusting these items for safekeeping.
  • Initiate unsolicited communications alleging device compromise.
  • Unsolicitedly pressure individuals to purchase valuables, make payments, or disclose personal information.

How to prevent Phantom Hacking

  • Individuals encountering such calls or messages should heed these steps:
  • Refrain from clicking on links in messages, asserting device compromise.
  • Avoid contacting provided phone numbers from suspicious texts or emails alleging device compromise.
  • Immediately terminate unsolicited calls claiming device compromise.
  • Seek consultation from a verified and reputable company to inspect devices if concerns arise about potential compromise.
  • Directly contact their financial institution using independently verified contact information if suspicions arise regarding compromised accounts.
  • Refrain from providing money, valuables, or personal data to unverified individuals.
  • Seek counsel from a trusted individual regarding suspicious calls, emails, or texts.
  • Report incidents to the local police department promptly, mainly if losses or arrangements for money/valuables pickup have occurred.

Stay ahead of the Fraudsters

For top-notch social media security, stay vigilant against online fraud and prioritize safeguarding your account’s privacy. Dive deeper into cyber consumer concerns and discover the best protection practices by accessing our interactive mobile app, FRAUDSTER, which is compatible with Apple and Android devices. Explore further at

Have you already got the FraudsterApp? Tap the training icon on your home screen to improve your self-protection skills.


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Terry Cutler

I’m Terry Cutler, the creator of Internet Safety University, an educational system helping to defend corporations and individuals against growing cyber threats. I’m a federal government-cleared cybersecurity expert (a Certified Ethical Hacker), and the founder of Cyology Labs, a first-line security defence firm headquartered in Montréal, Canada. In 2020, I wrote a bestselling book about the secrets of internet safety from the viewpoint of an ethical hacker. I’m a frequent contributor to National & Global media coverage about cyber-crime, spying, security failures, internet scams, and social network dangers families and individuals face daily.