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Security & privacy

Employees are losing thousands of dollars to this ‘boss scam’

We all receive emails from our boss at some point. Working from home might have increased the frequency, including a few extra requests than normal. You are relatively sure that it is indeed your superior you are communicating with for the most part.

But thinking back to the last mail you received, did you check that it came directly from them? Did you assume that it was legitimate because the sender’s name was right? Bad mistake. It could be a phishing scam. Tap or click here for a recent phishing scam involving UPS.

In fact, these types of phishing emails are on the rise. The Federal Trade Commission is warning everyone to be on the lookout for these types of scams in their inbox. Keep reading for signs you could be getting scammed.

Here’s the backstory

It wouldn’t be strange to receive an email from your boss with a non-work-related request in some circumstances. It could be something as simple as picking up his dry-cleaning or flowers for their partner.

But have you ever been asked to supply a line manager or direct boss with gift cards? If you have, there is a good chance that you fell victim to a scam. The FTC has warned that these scams are becoming more prevalent and the criminals more brazen.

The FTC explains that a spoofed email, supposedly from a higher-up, will ask you to help them out. Whatever the situation, they will ask you to pay them in gift cards, and they will reimburse you for it later.

But that is exactly the scam. The email isn’t from a co-worker, and as soon as you hand over the PINs for the cards, the money will be gone.

What you can do about it

The best way to avoid falling for this scam is to verify the person who allegedly sent the email. Make a quick call to your boss before purchasing gift cards or sending money in other ways and ask them if they, in fact, made the request. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

The FTC also gives the following suggestions to stay safe:

  • Don’t pay for anything with a gift card. Gift cards are for gifts, not for payments. If anyone asks you to pay with a gift card, it’s a scam.
  • Double-check with your supervisor. Call your boss using a known number — not something that was written in the email.
  • Take a pause. Can’t reach your manager? Talk to a trusted coworker or friend. Tell them the situation and see what they would do.

If you or anyone you know fell for a scam like this, report it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

Keep reading

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