High-tech heists: Scammers using social media, technology to steal money

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WGN Investigates

CHICAGO – Technology can be a lifeline, but it has also become the front line in a new war being waged by criminals to steal money.

From virtual kidnappings to ransomware, authorities say “high-tech heists” are an increasing threat. Criminals can now scam people from the relative obscurity of a computer screen.

One suburban mother fell victim to virtual kidnappers who trolled her daughter's social media account.

Tips to avoid becoming high-tech heist victim:

  • Experts say slow down, don’t cave in to fast-paced pressure.
  • Be aware that government agencies won't make threats over the phone.
  • If your computer is compromised, turn it off. Use a trusted computer repair shop, not a number that pops up on your screen.
  • Regardless of the type of crime, you’re encouraged to report it even if you feel foolish. That helps law enforcement track emerging threats and hopefully catch some of the criminals.