This is something that I have seen many times. A scammer will somehow get access to your email and then they can send emails from your account without you even being aware of it. In fact, they hide it from you. They can carry on conversations with others right from your email and you will never see it.
First let me explain what rules are in email accounts. These are instructions to help you manage your email. You can set up a rule for instance, to move any email from “John” to the folder “John.” These rules can be very helpful if you receive a lot of email and there are some that you need for future references but don’t necessarily need to see them when they arrive. I always get an emailed receipt when I buy anything from my computer supplier. I don’t need to look at these emails, I just need them for documentation if I am ever audited. So, I set up a rule that anytime I receive an email from Micro Center those emails will be moved to my Micro Center folder.
Scammers can do the same thing in your email. They can send an email to your employee that says “Please pay this invoice” in the subject line. In this email they will tell you to follow this link and pay this invoice for them. They can set up a rule that says any email that has “Please pay this invoice” in the subject line, delete the email. They can go into the trash and keep corresponding with your employee about this and you will never know about it.
This is a basic description of how they do it, but you get the idea about how they can steal from companies by using this tactic.
So, how can you protect yourself from this type of scam that has cost many companies a lot of money? The first thing is to make sure your email password is complex and not similar to other passwords that you have and use 2 factor authentication. If you can keep the scammers out of your email you don’t even have to worry about this.
But it is still a good idea to check your rules occasionally to make sure there are not any new rules that can be used against you. I had a customer that was one of the recipients along with others in their company on an email from one of their customers. Suddenly she was not receiving these emails any longer while everyone else was still getting them and they could see that she was listed as a recipient in the emails.
We verified that there was no issue with her email, she was receiving emails from everyone else except this one person. Then we checked her rules in Outlook on her computer and finally logged in online to her email and checked the rules there. When we checked online there were some new rules set up that she was not aware of and didn’t set up.
The scammers were using her account to try to divert payments to another bank. Luckily, we caught it, and no money was sent to the wrong bank. We then deleted these rules, changed her email password, and forced a sign out on all devices. We also made sure there were no rules in anybody else’s email account in the company and we instituted 2 factor authentication to ensure their email accounts remain safe.
If you are familiar with email rules, you should immediately check to ensure there are no extra rules in your email accounts. If you do not know anything about rules and don’t know how to check for fake rules, here is a video where I walk through how to view your rules in Outlook, Outlook online, and Gmail, most other web-based email accounts work similar to these. Check with the company that supplies your email or contact me.
If you would like to receive the Email Scambusters Monthly Report, sign up at the link below. It is a two-step process. Sign up and then click the payment link. The cost is $49.99 per year which is less than one cup of coffee per month. If you need more information give me a call.