A few days ago, we reported about the real-life spear phishing scam that cost Barbara Corcoran $388,700. On March 2nd, People Magazine and Pymnts revealed that Corcoran had the money returned to her. It was fortunate that a German-based bank handling the transfer froze it before it could be deposited into an account in China. Corcoran said her bank asked for the freeze so her team could figure out what was happening and verify whether the transaction was fraudulent.
Corcoran considers herself lucky, in that she had assumed the money was gone: “Everyone told me I wouldn’t get the money back and it just seems unbelievable!... my bank put pressure on the German bank, and they froze the money giving us time to prove it was fraud. I really thought it was a goner!”
Corcoran, the real estate mogul and a judge on Shark Tank, was phished when the bookkeeper received an email from who she though was Corcoran’s assistant asking for a wire transfer to pay for a real estate renovation. Corcoran doesn’t blame the bookkeeper though, as the spear phishing campaign was so well done, it was difficult to spot: “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.”
Corcoran really is lucky, as in most cases, once the money leaves the account, it is gone. Had her bank not put pressure on the German bank to hold the transaction, they might not have proven the fraud. Once the money reaches the scammers, it is all but impossible to get back.
If you suspect you might be the victim of spear phishing or fraud, contact your bank and authorities right away. The earlier the fraud is detected, there is a chance you may be able to recover your money. If you need help educating your staff about the dangers of spear phishing, contact Uzado about our Phishing Awareness Training.