Don’t let your chapter become the next victim of financial fraud. This article’s title is an example of a seemingly innocuous email subject line used as an opener to get you to let down your guard. Fraudsters can spoof another chapter board member’s email address, so you think it is coming from a trusted source. They will ask you to send a check or gift cards if you reply. Other common lines include “I lost my phone,” “I changed my email address,” or “ I am homesick today.”
Chapter leaders are especially susceptible to this type of fraud because they tend to work together virtually more often than in person. A spoofed email looks no different from a real one on a mobile device.
How to Prevent It
The AMA Support Center recommends that chapters adopt a policy of two-step authorization for any financial transaction over a nominal amount (e.g., $100). This means that two different authorized people on the board need to approve a purchase. If you have a smaller board and this is not practical, implement approval via two communication methods. If the request comes in via email, verify via text or voice.
Discuss the possibility of financial fraud at your next board meeting. Make all board members aware of the widespread scams, and review your chapter’s financial policies that ensure fraud prevention (like two-step authorization). Emphasize that the President (or any other board members) will never ask others to complete a purchase solely via email or text.
Be on Guard
Be suspicious of emails that are too brief, sound strange, or are out of character for the sender. Don’t hesitate to verify with that person via another communication method. It is better to take an extra minute to exercise caution than to be the next victim.
At Leadership Summit this last year, I was surprised by the number of chapters who asked about or reported instances of fraud at the Financial Management Loudtable (which is the best Loudtable, by the way, definitely stop by next year). This type of fraud can happen to you. For more info on typical scams, see this US government site.
AMA’s insurance does not cover loss from fraud through chapter board members’ actions (even if they were misled). Don’t be parted with your chapter’s hard-earned money!
Contact: Jeremy Van Ek, Chief Operations Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org