According to The Financial Times, criminal hackers are using personal information found on social networks and investment websites to target wealthy people in financial scams to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
One computer security organization says that they have seen a measurable increase in the number of hacker attacks aimed at the ultra-rich and the financial professionals who oversee their investments. Financial firms that show personal details of their executive staff online and professional social networks like LinkedIn are being used to search for people with high-level jobs.
These financial scams can range anywhere from several hundred thousand to millions of dollars.
Criminal hackers will often create fake email accounts and social media profiles, posing as wealthy clients or investment managers, to fool their wealthy targets.
One victim’s email account was cloned and used to transfer funds from his investment accounts without him or his financial manager finding out about it until after it was too late.
In the past, cyber criminals would “phish” millions of people with mass emails, hoping for a several small catches; but hackers are now getting more selective by targeting people with a verifiable net worth. A lot of cyber criminals have moved on from “phishing” to “whaling,” targeting high-net-worth people for financial scams.
According to law enforcement officials, LinkedIn is a treasure trove of professional information on people and hackers use it to find job titles for people. If a person has a good job title on LinkedIn, it can make them a good target for financial scams. People in the investment services field along with people in similar professions have become the favorite targets for online scammers.
Compliance officers at some high-profile investment firms say that they have seen an increase in hacking attempts on customer email accounts and fraudulent attempts to take money out of accounts.
Social media sites like LinkedIn claim that they do what they can to root out fake user profiles that people create, but we all know that sites like LinkedIn and Twitter are full of fake profiles that are used for various reasons by the people who create them. These profiles are often used for things like spam marketing and other online scams. Even known terrorist organizations have used social media sites like Twitter to advance their corrupt goals.