Woman Tricked Into Wiring $53,000 From Her Boss’s Bank Account

A Duncanville woman lost more than $50,000 after someone got control of her email account.

Karen Cherry owns a medical consultant company and travels for work frequently.

One morning while she was on a plane to New York, her chief financial officer, Donnie Payne, got an email asking her to pay a bill. The email looked like it came from Cherry

The email message asked Payne to wire $53,000 to someone in Arizona.

Since Cherry was was on her way to a big meeting in New York, Payne assumed her boss was emailing from the plane.

"I knew we had a lot going on, I said she must be really busy emailing right now to try to get something done," Payne said.

Wire transfers are nothing unusual for their business. The amount of money was significantly more than they typically transfer, but not totally outlandish.

Payne did as she was instructed, and when the boss landed it soon become clear those instructions didn't come from her.

"Donnie said, 'We took care of the wire transfer,' and I said, 'What wire transfer?'" Cherry said.

Panic set in. Payne and Cherry both contacted Chase Bank immediately, and Cherry says at first they got good news.

"The customer service, the people in the branches, they said, 'Oh, it's another Chase customer. We can get it taken care of,'" she said.

They say Chase froze both accounts while they investigated. After the account was frozen for more than a week, Chase told her no fraud was committed and the money was released to the other person.

Cherry is out of the $53,000.

NBC 5 Responds contacted Chase, asking why the banks said they would stop it but then released the money.

They told us, "We completed the transaction only after receiving instructions from Ms. Payne, who is fully authorized to transfer funds. The funds were then wired to a valid account number provided by the customer. Unfortunately, our attempt to recall the funds was not successful. This fraud is a police matter and should be directed to the proper law-enforcement authorities."

Chase wouldn't answer any additional questions about the account.

What happened to Payne and Cherry is increasingly common. Hackers are taking the time to learn your habits, whether at home or the office.

"Email spoofing is actually pretty common. It's when a hacker impersonates another," said Keith Barthold, of DKB Innovative.

He tracks these kinds of cyber attacks over email and says all it takes is a virus to let a hacker into your email account so he can learn and mimic your behavior.

"They're impersonating down the to language, the greeting and the signature of the email," Barthold said.

Cherry's office has taken steps to help prevent this in the future, and she has one bit of advice: always verify who you're talking to before making a transaction.

Remember not to trust any texts or emails even if they come from the right account.

If someone emails you asking to wire money, pay a bill, or send personal information, be on guard.

Pick up on the phone and verify that the email really came from the person you think.

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