Data breaches are on the rise meaning email hacks are becoming increasingly common as scammers are able to obtain passwords and emails of innocent victims. On BBC’s Dirty Rotten Scammers this morning, show-jumping coach Zara explained the devastating impact that these scammers had on her life.
In September 2018 she was waiting for inheritance money to be paid into her account by the solicitors dealing with the probate.
She had given the solicitors her bank details in person as well as over email several times.
She was told the money had been transferred into her account however when going to make a purchase one day, her card had been declined.
Confused by this, she went to visit her bank who confirmed to her that there was no money in her account.
Zara contacted the solicitors to find out what had happened as she needed the money to live on. When they showed her the account details they had sent the money to, she realised it was not hers.
She had no idea how the solicitors could have paid the money into the wrong account when she had emailed her correct details to them many times.
However after going through her email inbox, she had seen an email that she had not sent to the solicitors. The last email the solicitors received, supposedly from Zara, had a different account number for the money to be sent to.
The fake email meant that the scammers had deceived the solicitors into transferring Zara’s £42,000 into their account instead.
These criminals were able to get hold on Zara’s password to have taken control of her email.
Oz Alashe, CEO & Founder at CybSafe, said that “length beats complexity”.
For people trying to strengthen their passwords to avoid hackers getting into their accounts, he suggested that people choose three random words and put them together.
The show’s team of ethical hackers were able to discover that Zara’s data had been subject to a data breach.
They found that hackers were able to steal her information from a system or a company and they do that without any authorisation. In many cases the company may not even know.
Zara said: “I’m actually horrified because I try hard to be very careful.
“I find it very disconcerting that people have been able to find out things about me.
“Abused is a strange word, but I feel like I’ve been abused because someone has taken information that I’ve put out and they’ve used it.
“It’s scary that people have this information.”
Dirty Rotten Scammers is available on BBC iPlayer.