Sophisticated Scams Threaten Innocent Citizens

The Voice • November 2019

Cybercrimes continue to be on the rise, threatening more and more innocent civilians, business men and women, and homeowners everyday. As the form and function of these scams become more sophisticated and more detailed, the tally marks of victims continue to rise, as does the total amount lost to various forms of wire fraud scams. In December 2018, an Oregon man by the name of Aaron Cole was in the process of purchasing a new home when he received an email outlining the need to make a $123,000 deposit. Mr. Cole thought the email had come from his title company, not realizing that there were minute differences between the email address that had sent him this request and his regular title company contact.

Following what he thought was normal procedure, he deposited the $123,000 – the money his family earned from selling their previous home – and didn’t realize what had happened until it was too late. Cole went on to say that, after coming home from work, his wife realized something was wrong as soon as he sat down and “couldn’t come up with the words to tell her.” According to WFG National Title Insurance Company, $220 million was lost to scams of this nature in 2015. In 2019, that number is likely to exceed $1.5 billion instead, marking a frightening jump in regularity and severity of these scams.

Gabriel Gundersen, an FBI supervisory special agent, says that these scams have become “well-crafted and quite detailed” and “highly tailored to that particular victim”. This indicates that, as the scams continue to evolve and refine, the scammers in question are paying closer attention to their targets, highlighting an ever-growing need for cyber security measures. The FBI recommends that victims not only contact their local law enforcement if they think something is amiss, but to call a known phone number and confirm whether or not they are asking for a large sum of cash to be deposited. It is more important than ever to take any precautions available to protect yourself, your family, and your properties.