CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — The FBI has issued a warning out of Pittsburgh telling people in the region to watch out for tech support fraud scams.

According to the release, which was sent Thursday, more than $16 million have already been stolen in the area by these kinds of scams. The scammers tend to target older people and try to convince them that their financial accounts have been compromised. They will often tell victims that funds need to be moved or exchanged for cryptocurrency so that the scammers can gain access to computers and accounts.

These criminals have posed as customer service or tech support from well-known tech companies, and reports of scams by call, email, and text have been reported. By posing as a support member, scammers then try to get the victim to give them information to access the account or transfer location.

Another tactic is asking the victims to install software to their computers that allow the scammer to monitor and control the victims’ computers to access their accounts.

According to the FBI, an elderly West Virginia couple lost $150,000 after a hacker broke into their computer and created popups that shows pornographic images. The scammer said that he would distribute images of the victim’s family members edited onto pornographic images. A fraudulent tech support person contacted them at the same time, saying that would fix the problem with remote access. Over the course of the year, their computers continued to be hacked and the “tech support” continued to charge them to remotely fix it.

In total, 90 West Virginians have already fallen victim, losing a total of $602,976.

To not fall victim to these scams, follow the FBI’s advice listed below:

  • Legitimate customer, security, or tech support companies will not initiate unsolicited contact with individuals.
  • Ensure computer anti-virus, security and malware protection is up to date and settings are enabled to reduce pop-ups.
  • Be cautious of customer support numbers obtained via online searching. Phone numbers listed in a “sponsored” results section are likely boosted as a search of Search Engine Advertising.
  • If a pop-up or error message appears with a phone number, don’t call the number. Error and warning messages never include phone numbers.
  • Resist the pressure to act quickly. Criminals will urge the victim to act fast to protect their device or account.
  • Do not give unknown, unverified persons remote access to devices or accounts.
  • Do not download or visit a website that an unknown person may direct you to.
  • Do not trust caller ID readings as criminals often spoof names and numbers to appear legitimate. Let unknown numbers go to voice mail and do not call unknown numbers back.
  • Never trust a caller or company offering computer servicing or repair via remote access
  • Legitimate companies do not accept payment via gift card or Bitcoin
  • Slow down: Scammers instill fear and a need to move quickly to resolve the issue.
  • Never trust any company-tech or otherwise-requesting personal or financial information.