Lillie-Beth Brinkman recently received a message on LinkedIn about a secret shopper opportunity. It appeared to be from a friend.
On a whim, Brinkman clicked the link and provided information.
“Just my name and my address and phone number, which are all public record. I wasn’t that worried because I’m not giving out any private information,” she said.
As soon as she submitted those details, she questioned her decision. Turns out, her friend's LinkedIn account had been hacked and the message had come from scammers.
“I’ve had enough security training through the bank. I’ve written stories about this when I was a journalist. I follow tech security blogs, like, I know better than to respond to a strange email. But it just looked more real than some of the others that I’ve received,” she said. Brinkman is the Communications Director for NBC Oklahoma.
Elaine Dodd is the Executive Vice President of the Fraud Division at the Oklahoma Bankers Association. She spent decades in law enforcement and now trains bankers and customers in the fight against fraud.
Dodd said the secret shopper scam has reached a new level of sophistication.
“It’s become so professional now though, it looks so good on the forms that they send,” Dodd said.
These scammers sent Brinkman a package which included a bogus $2,900 check for her assignment. Instead of following the scammers' instructions, she turned it over to investigators.
“I don’t think we have to live scared and fearful of the internet and fearful of technology. But we just have to be smart in the way that we use it,” Brinkman said.
The IRS said romance scams are also through the roof right now, according to Dodd.
If you are concerned you might be a victim, contact authorities.