You get an email from your CEO asking you to transfer money right away. It’s from your boss so you assume it’s legitimate but hold on, it very well might not be. The “CEO scam” is a phishing scam that’s been happening for a while but it may be especially easy to fall for now that most people are working remotely.
How does it work?
The CEO scam works like this: The scammer sends you an email with a spoofed email address. It may include corporate logos and look like it’s coming from your boss or CEO. The email may include personal information about you (your name, your position, project, etc.).
According to the Competition Bureau, the scammer (posing as the CEO) may request you transfer money to a client or account. They send realistic-looking emails, requesting urgent wire transfers for what appears to be legitimate reasons. They may say they are “securing an important contract”, “a confidential transaction” or “updating a supplier’s payment information”. They may urge you not to tell anyone in the organization.
They may even instruct you to buy iTunes or VISA gift cards. The fraudster then asks for the PIN for the gift cards which allows the person to use them immediately, according to the RCMP.
Believing that the request is real, the employee transfers the money or buys the gift cards —only to find out that the email was a scam and the money is gone.
4 ways to avoid being duped by this scam:
- Always double-check with executives or your CEO when you get a request for a wire transfer or gift card purchase. Do this by calling the person directly and not using the contact information in the email (don’t hit reply!)
- Carefully inspect the sender’s email address. Does it have any missing letters?
- Never reply with personal, confidential, or financial information to “verify” identity
- Share information about this scam with your coworkers so they are aware of it and know what to look for
You can report scams to the police and consider submitting them to the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker.
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- Take a look at all of our COVID-19 related information on our website
Where do we fit in?
Yes, we are a provincial regulator. We are responsible for some very specific transactions in BC. We aren’t experts on COVID-19. We won’t – and shouldn’t – ever give medical or legal advice. But we are in a unique circumstance right now and we want to help people navigate the current reality. We don’t have all the answers, but we will do our best to share information from reliable sources, put it in ways that are easy to digest and understand, provide referrals and help you navigate this situation.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an evolving situation and information is changing all the time. Please go to the direct sources for updated information.
About Consumer Protection BC
We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.