BBB warns of new scam targeting people who work from home during COVID-19

Posted at 7:10 PM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 20:10:32-04

MILWAUKEE — The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning people working from home during COVID-19 to be aware of scammers trying to take advantage of them.

The BBB says while companies try to quickly adapt to the changing environment, it's putting employees at higher risk of being targeted by scammers through phishing emails or unsecured network connections.

"So many people working from home and working remotely," Jim Temmer, President of the BBB of Wisconsin said. "A lot of scammers are trying to break into a company using technology."

The group is focusing on two specific scams. The first is called a business email compromise scam, where scammers try to impersonate emails that appear to come directly from your boss or someone the company does business with.

"An email will come in to an employee supposedly from the boss in his or her name saying to cut a check for $20,000 to XYZ company or transfer money from this account to that account," Temmer said. "It's the boss and of course you do it. But what they did was hijack the boss's email. Churches, businesses, governments in southeast Wisconsin have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in this."

Two high profile instances in the last year were the St. John XXIII Catholic Church in Port Washington losing $510,000 to scammers and just last month, West Allis-West Milwaukee School District was swindled out of $843,000.

"Businesses lose big money in this because a lot of money comes in and a lot of money comes out," Temmer said. "If you're an accountant for a company and you get an email from the president of the company saying to do something, you're usually going to do it."

The other scam looks to prey on IT issues people are facing while at home. Without easy access to your business's IT department, the scam looks to get you to spend money to take care of an issue or gain access to your home computer remotely.

"Most places have an IT firm or in house IT so you're not going to get an email from Bill Gates saying he can fix your computer," Temmer said. "That's not happening. It's a scam. Nobody is going to be contacting you out of the blue saying hey, we've identified a problem. Click here to solve it."

Temmer suggests verifying requests from the people you trust at your business and contacting your IT department with any possible issues on your computer.

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