Company Impersonation Scams

Episode ID S1E10
October 21, 2020

Social engineering scams are widespread and varied, and can take advantage of the unaware business or individual. In this episode, we’re talking about a form of social engineering called company impersonation scams.


Hello, this is CoBank’s Fraud Wise, helping you avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

Social engineering scams are widespread and varied, and can take advantage of the unaware business or individual.

Social engineering is essentially a con game, when a criminal tries to trick a victim into doing something, or sharing private information that the criminal can then use to their advantage. This can happen in person, on the phone or via email.

However the communication arrives, the scam artist may pretend to be a vendor, and ask you to send future payments to a new bank account – which, of course, is not owned by the legitimate vendor. The scam artist may issue a false invoice, hoping you’ll simply pay it before realizing it’s fraudulent. They may also claim to be a customer, asking for your bank account information so they can send you payments…and once they have that information, they can perpetrate further fraud on the account.

Fraudsters can also send you a check or electronic funds, claiming to be an IRS refund, winnings from Publishers Clearinghouse, or offering you easy work from home with a convenient advance. Then, they ask you to send them some sort of processing fee, or supply fee in the work-from-home scam. They get to keep the money you send, and when the bank discovers the initial deposit you made is fraudulent, that money will also disappear, leaving you in the hole.

Similarly, a con may involve sending you more money than you expect for something you’re selling on EBay or Craig’s List, and ask you to send the difference (minus an inconvenience fee) through Western Union to a third party.

Phishing emails are perhaps the most pervasive of social engineering scams. The perpetrator tries to get you to reveal personal information such as social security numbers, bank account numbers or PINs. These emailers or callers often pretend to be legitimate businesses—including the post office or FedEx—that need your information to be able to deliver a package to you.

Falling for any of these scams can expose you or your business to significant financial and business risk. To protect yourself, never give personal information to anyone you have not proactively contacted using a number or address you are confident is accurate. Educate your employees to do the same.

This has been CoBank Fraud Wise, helping you protect against fraud.