Wire fraud attempts have been increasing drastically. Typically, a wire fraud is an incident where a criminal impersonates an individual and instructs the individual’s financial institution to wire money to an account controlled by the criminal. We’ve put procedures into place years ago that are designed to uncover such wire fraud attempts. We regularly review these procedures and update them if necessary.
This summer, we encountered our very first wire fraud attempt. A criminal was able to take control of a client’s email account and communicated with us as if he was the client. When the same criminal called our office, our caller ID indicated that the call was in fact coming from our client. Luckily, our procedures held up and prevented the fraud from being successful. All assets remained safely under the control of our client.
Being a boutique firm where we know our clients intimately certainly helps us recognize imposters more easily. But even knowing a person’s voice is not a foolproof protection. Last year, a San Diego resident thought she was talking on the phone to her adult granddaughter who needed cash desperately. The grandma did not realize that the familiar voice came from an imposter and not her granddaughter. Luckily, the grandma’s advisor contacted the granddaughter before wiring the requested money and thereby discovered the fraud.
We understand that our procedures and other procedures implemented by our custodians have at times been inconvenient. Having to respond to additional verification requests after asking for a wire to be sent can be interruptive and time consuming. But we feel strongly that the extra steps are necessary to continue safeguarding your assets. Please be patient with us when we or employees at Charles Schwab call you to verify wires.
Just remember, if somebody calls you whom you do not recognize, do not divulge confidential information like your social security number. Employees at Charles Schwab would only ask you to confirm the wire (i.e. how much are you sending to whom) and would not ask you to divulge sensitive data.
Your Cornerstone Team