One of our employees recently received an e-mail from our president requesting that she process a wire transfer immediately. The strange part? It wasn’t our current president. In fact it wasn’t even our previous president, and it certainly wasn’t his e-mail address. This was a scam appropriately named “The Fake President Fraud.”
Typically, this scam involves one or more criminals attempting to impersonate an executive such as the president, CEO, CFO, etc. or a trusted partner such as a lawyer or accountant. Then this “trusted executive” establishes contact with an employee, often through an e-mail that is made to resemble the company domain or the personal account of the impersonated. The “exec” requests a wire transfer for any number of reasons (debt, consulting fees, etc.) occasionally they inform the employee that they will be contacted by a lawyer with payment instructions. At this point the employee generally begins to receive an increased number of emails and phone calls in an attempt to bully compliance.
Ways to prevent this scam…
- Pay attention to the e-mail address, if it’s unfamiliar proceed with caution!
- Look for spelling mistakes, poor grammar, or an unusual “tone” or language given your previous interactions with the real executive.
- Establish protocols for authorizing transfers and stick to them!
- A phone call or a text to the “real” executive (not an e-mail) inquiring as to the validity of the message is great way to authenticate the legitimacy of the request.
- Most importantly, educate your employees – share this information with your employees and coworkers, particularly those authorized to complete wire transfers. In regards to e-mails, specifically e-mails related to company affairs, it is safest to act with caution in order to ensure security and safety.
About Sweeney Conrad
Established in 1980, “people first” has been the foundation of Sweeney Conrad, the leading locally owned Certified Public Accounting firm in the Puget Sound area. Now 38 years later, we remain committed to serving as trusted advisors and dedicated partners to closely held companies and high net worth individuals in the Pacific Northwest.
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