Her boss texted her to do a ‘quick task,’ but it was a scam

Online experts explain how scammers get information and pose as your boss
Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 5:16 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Who doesn’t want to impress management during the few months on the job? So when the boss sends a text asking if you are available for a “quick task,” there’s a pretty good chance you’ll follow through.

That, according to Internet security experts, is what cybercriminals are banking on. And they are succeeding.

Dr. Chris Pierson is a cybercrime expert who served 10 years on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s privacy and cybersecurity committees.

“What’s really kind of key is this,” he said. “People who are new to jobs are the most targeted. It could be a younger population; it could be people changing jobs. And the reason why is because you always want to do your best during the first three or six months of your job. You always want to please.

“It’s incredibly lucrative.”

Lisa Tilt, founder and CEO of Full Tilt Consulting in Roswell, Georgia, said cybercriminals are targeting smaller businesses, and recently texted one of her newer employees.

The text read: “I’m on a call right now with some partners and I need you for a quick task are you available?”

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Cyber security experts are warning companies and their employees of fake text messages that...
Cyber security experts are warning companies and their employees of fake text messages that appear to come from supervisors.(WGCL)

When the employee replied she was available, the scammer texted, “I need some Google gift cards to be added to an e-thank you card for a client. Can you confirm if you can get some Google cards from the nearest store?”

The employee was smart enough to contact her boss directly to confirm. But how did the scammer get her name and cellphone number in the first place?

Pierson said no hacking is necessary because so much of this information is available online through data broker websites. Couple that data with simple LinkedIn information and cybercriminals have a roadmap on how to contact virtually anyone.

“Sometimes small businesses think we’re not on anybody’s radar and that’s not the case,” Tilt said.

Pierson said the easy way to stop the boss-texting scam is for companies to educate their employees often and spell out its procedures into company policy, and ensure no financial transactions are made without direct communication.

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