BURLINGTON – The Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) is warning Vermont business owners, non-profits, and employees about an uptick in business imposter email scams. In the last two months, CAP has received five reports of business imposter email scams resulting in a total loss of $210,799. Scammers are impersonating employees or familiar business representatives’ emails and contacting company bookkeepers and office administrators asking them to change bank account information, direct deposit information, or asking them to write checks. By impersonating an employee’s email address or creating a fake personal email for the employee, scammers can steal money from businesses and steal paychecks from employees.
Vermont businesses and non-profits should always verify email addresses and speak directly with an employee or business representative in person or via phone when sending money or changing payment information. Oftentimes, scammers will use an email address that only slightly varies from an employee’s true email. Be wary of any email coming from outside your company’s domain. CAP urges business owners to educate their entire company on scams that target businesses.
Here are ways in which businesses and non-profits can better protect themselves and their employees from scams:
- Cybersecurity assessment: check internal controls and resolve vulnerabilities.
- Train staff regularly in cybersecurity and funds management protocols.
- Enlist internal protocols to verify the transfer of funds by engaging multiple staff members and voice verification, using trusted contact information.
- Help clientele identify common scams within the industry.
- The SLOW method can serve as a helpful starting point, encouraging parties to take their time during urgent transactions and connect with a trusted party like CAP.
- Never send money to parties you cannot verify.
To learn more about how to protect your business from these scams, watch CAP’s Avoiding the Business Imposter Email Scam Video and review the steps to verify at https://ago.vermont.gov/cap/business-imposter/.
If you or someone you know has lost money to this scam, contact law enforcement and report the scam to CAP online or call 1-800-649-2424 and speak to our Small Business Advocate.