Oh, how the mighty can fall for phishing scams.
Recently, New York Supreme Court Justice Lori Sattler was scammed into sending $1 million overseas through a convincing email scam. Judge Sattler, who is in the process of selling her apartment and buying another, was under the assumption the email came from her real estate lawyer. She was instructed to send the money to an account with the Commerce Bank of China – and she did, apparently unconcerned as to why the sum was headed to China.
In Judge Sattler’s defense, this phishing attack was very well planned. While it’s not known if the scammers had access to the lawyer’s email account or if the account was fake, it is almost certain that either Judge Sattler’s computer or email account, her real estate lawyer’s computer or email address — or both of their accounts — were compromised. The scammers knew Judge Sattler was in the process of selling her apartment; therefore, the large amount of money being transferred would not come as a surprise to the victim.
But Judge Sattler isn’t the only bigwig to fall for a phishing scam: in 2016, the CEO of Snapchat was scammed into revealing employee payroll information and a Seagate executive was conned into releasing confidential tax forms of over ten thousand employees. Even Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, was targeted this year through an email prompting him to change his Gmail password. Incidents like this can affect anyone, even those close to home: a University of Delaware alum fell victim to a similar phishing attack in 2016.
Before opening a suspicious link or wiring all of your savings overseas, stop and think about the email you’ve received. Do you know the sender? Is it their correct email address, or is there a slight typo? Confirm with the sender over the phone or in person to ensure their request is legitimate.
When all it takes is one click to become a victim, take all the precautions you can to protect yourself.
And above all, Think B4 U Click!