Our extensive use of electronic communications has become a boom for scammers and cybercriminals whose latest target are financial advisers and brokers. Financial advisers are receiving phony emails purporting to be from their customers asking them to wire money into specific bank accounts. Recently, an unwary experienced financial planner wired $15,850 into an account at PNC Bank at what he thought was the direction of his client only to learn later that it was a scam. Investors increasingly communicate with their financial advisers through email. With the ease in hacking into someone’s email along with the availability of so much information about individual victims online through social media and other sources, it is an easy scam to accomplish.
As always, be skeptical whenever anyone asks you to wire money. Once money is wired, it is gone. This is a favorite tactic of scammers. Financial advisers should confirm any and all financial transactions with their clients personally before sending money anywhere. Being aware of how easy it is to hack into someone’s email is a good first step in providing for greater safety.