The Money Shot: boss fraudsters

A hacker on a laptop
Kirsty loved putting on her balaclava at the end of a long day and doing a bit of hacking
"This scheme not only relies on clever hacking, but clever psychology too"
  • | by Emily Bater

Whether it's a prince from Nigeria promising you a world of riches, or someone telling you they love your website and want you to send them $15 so they can help you expand it, we're always getting weird and wonderful spam in our inboxes.

Most of them we can ignore and delete with ease. But sometimes, sophisticated hoaxes slip through the net and you find yourself in a Ponzi scheme or on a website you'd rather avoid (not this one, obviously…).

But a new fake email scheme is taking fraud to another level – a few levels higher, in fact.

Office workers were being warned this week not to open emails that appeared to come from their bosses, imploring them to transfer money.

According to Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK), there's been a rise in the scheme which has seen several small and medium companies lose up to £20,000 on these sorts of scams.

Staff typically receive an email from a senior manager, asking for urgent payments to go towards something unexpected – a new contract, for instance.

The scammers even research the names of workers bosses and hack their email addresses to appear legit.

It seems to us that this scheme not only relies on clever hacking, but clever psychology too – how many SMEs have urgent needs for money, whether it's to secure a deal or just to keep the business going?

Katy Worobec, head of fraud control at Financial Fraud Action UK, opined: "Fraudsters will do all they can to make these scam emails look genuine, so it's important for businesses to be alert.

"While an urgent request from the boss might naturally prompt a swift response, it should in fact be a warning sign of a potential scam. That's why it's vital that finance teams carefully check any unusual demands for payment through an alternative method, such as over the phone or face to face, before making the payment."

Ignore emails from bosses at your peril, but in this case you'd probably be better off…

NEWS IN BRIEF

Speaking of hacking, TalkTalk customers are being advised to change their passwords after the company was the victim of a sustained cyber attack, resulting in customers' data being compromised

Switching bank accounts could save you £70 on average, according to the number crunchers at the Competitions and Markets Authority.

Volkswagen is widening its diesel probe to more engines, to see whether they also contain software used to manipulate emissions data.

The government has launched a public consultation into how to get more people to switch their bank accounts.

ON COVERED MAG THIS WEEK

Emily Bater fires up the flux capacitor and heads way back into the mists of time to recount a short history of the DeLorean DMC-12.

What's the cost of being healthy? Abbie Laughton-Coles gets out her enormous Sports Direct calculator and finds out.

Are you a cat or a dog person? Have a read of this and decide once and for all.

Money Shot letters

Dear 'Kristian Dando',

You can't be a football fan, or you would see how ridiculous it is to suggest switching teams to save money.

To suggest to fans that they simply support another team is like suggesting they change their DNA – football is in our blood, in our hearts. Unless you're a glory supporter, in which case you're not a football fan at all. The lines in football are clearly drawn; you're either a Jack or a Bluebird, a Red Devil or a Citizen.

You obviously know nothing of the exquisite joy or excruciating misery felt when your team wins or loses; nothing of the brotherhood felt when you're in the stands, all hoping for the same outcome. You know nothing of sport, my good sir.

Chris Butterworth, Esq.

Join us next week for another lung-busting edition of the Money Shot. Until then,  send us your letters.