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    Scammers Use Couriers to Retrieve Cash & Precious Metals from Victims of Tech Support and Government Impersonation Scams

    The FBI is warning the public about scammers instructing victims, many of whom are senior citizens, to liquidate their assets into cash and/or buy gold, silver, or other precious metals to protect their funds. Criminals then arrange for couriers to meet the victims in person to pick up the cash or precious metals. From May to December 2023, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) saw an uptick in this activity with aggregated losses of over $55 million.

    Step 1: Scammers Instruct Victims to Liquidate Assets into Cash and/or Buy Precious Metal

    Scammers pose as tech support or US government officials. Scammers sometimes use a multi-layered approach, posing, in succession, as a technology company, a financial institution, and a US government official (e.g., the "Phantom Hacker" scam). Scammers inform victims their financial accounts were hacked or are at risk of being hacked, and, as a result, their funds need to be protected. Scammers instruct victims to liquidate their assets into cash and/or purchase gold, silver, or other precious metals. Sometimes, scammers instruct victims to wire funds to a metal dealer who will ship the precious metals to victims' homes.

    Step 2: Scammers Use Couriers to Retrieve Cash and/or Precious Metals from Victim

    Once victims obtain the cash and/or precious metals, the scammers send couriers to retrieve the items at victims' homes or public locations. Scammers may direct victims to authenticate the transaction with the courier using a passcode, such as the serial number of a US dollar bill. Scammers tell victims they will safeguard the assets in a protected account on behalf of the victims. In reality, victims never hear back from the scammers and lose all their money.

    Tips to Protect Yourself

    • The US Government and legitimate businesses will never request you purchase gold or other precious metals.
    • Protect your personal information. Never disclose your home address or agree to meet with unknown individuals to deliver cash or precious metals.
    • Do not click on unsolicited pop-ups on your computer, links sent via text messages, or email links and attachments.
    • Do not contact unknown telephone numbers provided in pop-ups, texts, or emails.
    • Do not download software at the request of unknown individuals who contact you.
    • Do not allow unknown individuals access to your computer.

    Report It

    The FBI requests victims report these fraudulent or suspicious activities to the FBI IC3 at www.ic3.gov as quickly as possible. Be sure to include as much transaction information as possible:

    • The name of the person or company that contacted you.
    • Methods of communication used, including websites, emails, and telephone numbers.
    • Any bank account number(s) to which you wired funds and the recipient name(s).
    • The name and location of the metal dealer company and the account to which you wired funds, if you were instructed to buy precious metals.

    Victims aged 60 or over who need assistance with filing an IC3 complaint, can contact the DOJ Elder Justice Hotline, 1-833-FRAUD-11 (or 833-372-8311).