SUNRISE, Fla. – Patricia Wolf never imagined she would be homeless at 82 years old.
A clever fraudster was aware that she was closing on a new property in April in Sunrise. The scammer imitated her attorney’s e-mail and sent her wiring instructions.
“The wire transfer instructions had his name on top,” Wolf said adding, “I can’t imagine anyone doing this to anyone else. It’s beyond cruel.”
Wolf wired $98,000. It was her life’s savings. The money vanished. She couldn’t buy the new property and quickly found herself homeless.
“I’m hurting. I need help ... I hope someone will help me,” Wolf said adding, “The nights are hard. When I wake up it’s hard.”
FBI Special Agents refer to this type of cybercrime as a “spoofing and phishing” scam. The fraudster earns the victim’s trust by disguising an email address, sender name, phone number, or website URL.
Wolf, the victim of an e-mail spoofed phishing attack, has a regret. She wishes she would have called the attorney’s office to verify the source of the e-mail before making the wire transfer. She filed reports with authorities.
FBI prevention tips
- Call the company to ask if the request is legitimate.
- Carefully examine the email address, URL, and spelling used in any correspondence. Scammers use slight differences to trick your eye and gain your trust.
- Be careful what you download. Never open an email attachment from someone you don’t know and be wary of email attachments forwarded to you.
- Set up two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication on any account that allows it, and never disable it.
- Be careful with what information you share online or on social media. By openly sharing things like pet names, schools you attended, family members, and your birthday, you can give a scammer all the information they need to guess your password or answer your security questions.