A friend in need is a … scammer?

A friend in need is a … scammer?

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a client requesting that I wire money to a Western Union office in London. The brief email stated that he had been mugged and now needed $1,500 to get back to the United States.

While my first response was a mix of panic and compassion, my second was suspicion. I had spoken to the client just a few weeks earlier and he hadn’t mentioned an international trip on the horizon. However, the email was from his standard account and the sender used my first name in the salutation. Added to that was the fact that it wasn’t an outrageous amount of money being requested. I had to consider that it might just be legit.

I replied to the email stating that I suspected his email was hacked and that I was not going to send the money without speaking with him first. Moments later a reply came back saying, indeed it was my client, he had been mugged and he really needed the money sent ASAP! I thought, wow, either this email hacker is really good or my client really is in trouble in London.

Not convinced one way or another, I picked up the phone and called my client’s home number. Sure enough, he picked up the phone. While he was safe and sound at home, his account had indeed been hacked. Not only was I grateful he was okay, we were both grateful I was cautious.

While the ease of instantaneous global fund transfers provides some significant convenience, it’s not without risk. The truth is, once the money leaves your account it is almost impossible to get back. Ninety-percent of the time, wire fraud involves email hacking.

Very simply, email hackers go through your address book and look for previous emails from financial services firms as well as grab your personal email address book. They then create personalized emails directly to individuals that, on the surface, appear very believable. So believable, in fact, that it’s estimated that nearly $300,000,000 (that’s million, folks) will be lost to wire fraud this year in the US alone.

Fortunately, there is an easy solution for protecting your assets. Simply call all the financial services firms that you have relationships with and verify that their policy is to never send money out of your account without verbally verifying the request directly with you. While many firms have adopted this policy in recent years, it is not a law, so you cannot assume you are protected. If the firms you work with do not have a formal policy specifically requiring verbal authorization, you may request that your account be handled in this manner.

I would further ask to have your request confirmed via letter or by email (trust me, the irony of the latter form is not lost on me). It’s a simple step that could literally save you thousands.

While this advice may not help increase your return on your investments, it may help you from worrying about the return of your investments.A few weeks ago, I received an email from a client requesting that I wire money to a Western Union office in London. The brief email stated that he had been mugged and now needed $1,500 to get back to the United States.


While my first response was a mix of panic and compassion, my second was suspicion. I had spoken to the client just a few weeks earlier and he hadn’t mentioned an international trip on the horizon. However, the email was from his standard account and the sender used my first name in the salutation. Added to that was the fact that it wasn’t an outrageous amount of money being requested. I had to consider that it might just be legit.

I replied to the email stating that I suspected his email was hacked and that I was not going to send the money without speaking with him first. Moments later a reply came back saying, indeed it was my client, he had been mugged and he really needed the money sent ASAP! I thought, wow, either this email hacker is really good or my client really is in trouble in London.

Not convinced one way or another, I picked up the phone and called my client’s home number. Sure enough, he picked up the phone. While he was safe and sound at home, his account had indeed been hacked. Not only was I grateful he was okay, we were both grateful I was cautious.

While the ease of instantaneous global fund transfers provides some significant convenience, it’s not without risk. The truth is, once the money leaves your account it is almost impossible to get back. Ninety-percent of the time, wire fraud involves email hacking.

Very simply, email hackers go through your address book and look for previous emails from financial services firms as well as grab your personal email address book. They then create personalized emails directly to individuals that, on the surface, appear very believable. So believable, in fact, that it’s estimated that nearly $300,000,000 (that’s million, folks) will be lost to wire fraud this year in the US alone.

Fortunately, there is an easy solution for protecting your assets. Simply call all the financial services firms that you have relationships with and verify that their policy is to never send money out of your account without verbally verifying the request directly with you. While many firms have adopted this policy in recent years, it is not a law, so you cannot assume you are protected. If the firms you work with do not have a formal policy specifically requiring verbal authorization, you may request that your account be handled in this manner.

I would further ask to have your request confirmed via letter or by email (trust me, the irony of the latter form is not lost on me). It’s a simple step that could literally save you thousands.

While this advice may not help increase your return on your investments, it may help you from worrying about the return of your investments.

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