Be Careful when Wiring Money
A Salem bookkeeper received an email from her association treasurer saying, I just got an email from our President and “We need to wire some money right away to pay the event bill!” The email looked legitimate and all the addresses were correct. The email even referenced a recent event by name. The bookkeeper was smart, however, and confirmed the request with the President. No such request was sent. It came to pass that the treasurer’s email was hacked. The hacker looked for similar emails, writing styles and names of association leaders. Had the bookkeeper transferred the money, the whole association account would have been at risk. This is not unusual and local bankers will tell you the same.
In commercial real estate, there may be times when you need to wire money and it can be a useful tool, but caution is needed. We’ve all received emails over the years from someone claiming to be from a foreign country that starts out with Dear Precious One…. and they need your help to get money out of their country. For a fee. Be extra aware if your long-lost grandson calls and is in prison in Cancun and needs you to wire him money. You would be alarmed to find out how many Salem residents (mostly the elderly) are scammed by these each year.
But today we’re now dealing with a different kind of financial fraud, and one that can easily grab thousands of dollars or more out of our bank accounts. This specific fraud can happen when you’re involved in a financial transaction, and it’s time for you to now wire the money to someone to complete the transaction.
Here’s how it works:
You receive an email with wiring instructions that include your name, the parties involved in the transaction, the subject of what the money is being wired for, and the exact amount of money to be wired.
What you don’t know is that someone has hacked this communication. They know everything now (Uh Oh!)
Next, you receive an email containing the wiring instructions, (these instructions seem legitimate), and you wire the money.
But WAIT! The email came from the bad guys and they have you send the money to their bank. Now you’ve lost all your money.
Here are some tips from the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation):
- Never wire money to people you don’t know.
- Be wary of someone who seems anxious to “get the money fast.”
- Don’t deposit checks for in your account to wire money to someone. (there’s no guarantee that check is good).
- Never give out your bank account information or credit card number in response to an advertisement or unsolicited call, text or email.
Most importantly, it’s good to work with local financial professionals who you know and knows you. They can help protect you when dealing with financial transactions.