Fake emails from CEO urges money wire

Posted at 7:10 PM, Apr 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-05 00:30:16-04

Scammers are successfully posing as company CEO's through email, bilking hundreds of thousands of dollars from Valley businesses according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The agency says scammers find their victims by finding out who makes the financial decisions for the company.  Then monitoring them on social media, learning their mannerisms and how they write.

"It's somebody that has done social engineering and has done a significant amount of work examining social accounts such as LinkedIn, your Facebook, your Twitter account," says Special Agent Mark Cwynar.

Then they spoof the email.

"They get in and make it look like a legit email from the CEO to the CFO," he says. 

The fake CEO email instructs the money handlers to wire money for an urgent matter. 

'They are following up with vulgar language," Cwynar says.  "Do you want your job? I told you to get this done. It's not done so obviously you don't like working here very much."

Since October 2015, ten arizona businesses lost between $25,000 and $75,000 each, and consumers may well be picking up the tab. 

Cwyner says a simple phone call between employees could stop it.

But if it does happen, your best chance of getting that money back is to act quicly.

"If you can get to your financial institution within hours it's standard, they can stop the transaction," he says.

Bottom line--don't trust anyone, not even your boss.  And question everything.

The FBI also suggests that businesses come up with a word of the day as an extra layer of security.

That way if you get a questionable email from another employee, and they don't know the code word--you know that there is a problem.

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