Invoice fraud scams continue to target businesses of all sizes and industries, with experts warning of a major spike in various iterations of business email compromise scams.
One of the latest high-profile cases was revealed this week from Barbara Corcoran, an entrepreneur best known for her position on startup investment television show “Shark Tank.”
Reports in People this week said Corcoran lost nearly $400,000 to an invoice scam and confirmed that she will not be able to recover the funds.
“I lost the $388,700 as a result of a fake email chain sent to my company,” she told the publication. “It was an invoice supposedly sent by my assistant to my bookkeeper approving the payment for a real estate renovation. There was no reason to be suspicious as I invest in a lot of real estate.”
Her experience is increasingly common among businesses as cyberattackers deploy more sophisticated tactics to steal company cash by infiltrating accounts payable processes.
Some fraudsters may hack into a business email server to gain insight into upcoming deals or existing vendor relationships, making that criminal more capable of impersonating a legitimate executive or partner to convince a business to make a payment to a criminal account.
According to Corcoran, a fraudster impersonated her assistant, and her company’s bookkeeper did not realize the mistake until they sent an email to the assistant’s real email address. Only then did the bookkeeper realize that a fraudster had slightly altered Corcoran’s assistant’s email address to be more convincing.
“The money was wired to the scammer yesterday, and my bookkeeper copied my assistant, who was shocked to see her name on the correspondence,” she recalled. “The detail that no one caught was that my assistant’s email address was misspelled by one letter, making it the fake email address set up by the scammers.”
Entrepreneur Mark Cuban, who is also on “Shark Tank,” detailed a similar scenario earlier this month that led to $82,000 in losses from his first company.