Even the most business savvy individuals can be conned. Barbara Corcoran, a successful investor best known as one of the judges on the popular show “Shark Tank,” was recently the victim of an elaborate phishing scam. Corcoran revealed that she was conned out of over $380,000 by a sly scammer who used an email address similar to her assistant’s. Under the guise of being her assistant, the scammer requested a payment for a renovation from Corcoran’s bookkeeper.
Luckily for Corcoran, the bank used by her bookkeeper to wire the money to the scammer froze the transfer before it was deposited into a bank account in China. This freeze allowed Corcoran to prove the transaction was fraudulent and get back her money. Unfortunately, this kind of fraud isn’t uncommon for businesses. Companies have lost $26 billion to wire fraud since 2016 according to the FBI.* Not all are as lucky as Corcoran in getting money returned, however.
So, what can we take away from this? Corcoran’s experience reminds us that scammers are sly and phishing scams can be elaborate. Always verify who the sender is when asked to wire money or click on any links, even if it looks like someone you know. Consider implementing a two-step approval process for expenditures by your business that exceed a certain amount. For example, you could say that before bills or wire transfers exceeding $3,000 can be paid, the owner and the billing person must sign off. For more information on phishing scams and tips on how to spot them, head to bbb.org