COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A new phishing scam is targeting residents in Colorado Springs. It cost one couple nearly $50K.
"We were just in shock," said Rebecca Eber. "We didn't understand how wiring was so dangerous."
How does it work?
After picking their victims, scammers are impersonating professionals that deal with big ticket item purchases. For example; real estate agents, car companies, etc.
They research the conversations between the two parties and then make an identical account to intercept the messages to request wire transfers. This scam can be executed in various ways, but always requires impersonating someone to get access to information or money.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office reports five similar cases in the past five months where hackers are interfering with email conversations to get money wired to their accounts. All five arrests have been made in the following states: FLA, GA, and TX.
Meet the Ebers
Wim and Rebecca Eber are big players in the real estate game. Their most recent purchase was a home in Victor, Colorado.
"We used a legitimate real estate agent, title company, and even the money was being wired to a legit local bank," said Wim Eber.
The scam happened right under their nose.
"We went to the closing table, everything seemed normal, and then the title company asked for our cashiers check," said Rebecca Eber.
The Ebers already wired $47,000 to what they thought was the title company. But what they didn't realize was the person they were emailing back and forth was not their agent but a scammer.
The hacker intercepted their emails, after studying their conversation and the real estate agent's writing style. The scammers copied the agent's email account information verbatim.
"The signature blocks were the same, the intro's were the same, and even the email addresses," said Wim Eber.
The problem? The Win's saw no difference to the conversations or the layout of the emails. Nothing tipped them off.
"We were just in shock," said Rebecca Eber. "Wiring is so dangerous because nothing is insured. There's no way to get it back. It's just gone."
Det. Trey White with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said the email account that's least secure is the most likely to get compromised.
"They're very smart about what they do," he said. "Don't think it can't happen to you, because these people are professionals and do it all the time."
What is 'phishing'?
It's how scammers induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, by often times impersonating other people.
Be skeptical if you're ever wiring funds, verify who you're talking with - even if that means having to check every letter of the email address.
Plus - keep in mind when wiring any money, it's not insured and can't be traced like a cashier's check.
Do you know of a scam?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org