Ask Amy: Scammed by a hacker, revenge would be sweet
Dear Amy: I’ve been scammed by a hacker.
I’m a middle-aged woman. My fiancé of five years is a chronic liar and he has cheated on me. I know in my head that I should leave him, but my heart won’t let me.
He is in a 12-step program, and says he is trying to change, but I stupidly tried to hire someone to hack his phone.
I sent this person $300. I have an email from them stating that this was the cost. Later the same day, this person said it would cost an additional $120. I refused to send more money, because I came to believe that this was a scam. This person now refuses to return my money.
Do I have any recourse? I’m afraid to go to the local police. I’m afraid it’s against the law to hack someone.
I’m out $300, I don’t know what to do. Can I go to the police?
— Scammed by Hacker
Dear Scammed: You seem to have fallen for an “advance fee” scam. I contacted the FBI field office in Chicago for an explainer.
According to Agent Siobhan Johnson, FBI Chicago spokesperson: “In an advance fee scheme, a victim pays for something of value only to receive little to nothing in return. This type of crime is extremely common and appears in many forms.
“When you engage with an online scammer, you open the door to a host of future problems — from cyber intrusions, to identity theft, to extortion. Often, the only way to stop the cycle is through good cyber hygiene (changing passwords frequently, requiring two-factor authentication, etc.) and reporting the crime to law enforcement. More on cyber hygiene can be found on the FBI website: fbi.gov.