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From there, they build cases based on victims' stories, Everett says.From August 2014 to April 2015, the IC3 received 7,891 complaints tied to phishing, vishing or smishing scams, the FBI said in an emailed response to questions.

It helps to recognize when you're being manipulated.

"What these criminals are banking on is fear: your account has been frozen, you're locked out of your i Cloud.

An automated voice mail with the same warning followed. Sever, a Florida Gulf Coast University professor, has an account and debit card with the bank.

The messages suggested he call an 800 number to verify his identity and unfreeze his account.

On the rise Satnam Narang, a senior security response manager at Symantec, notes that smishing has been growing for the past five years as smartphones have replaced computers as consumers' primary devices.