Well, it’s all seasons, really.  Consider this a PSA for all nonprofit directors and administrative staff.  Associations and other nonprofits are particularly easy targets for a detailed scam that has robbed them of badly needed membership funds.  Below you’ll see a way to help.

I will combine two situations I’ve seen with clients this last year in order to create a case study on how clever the bad guys have gotten.

The chairperson of an event receives a very detailed email request of vendor payment including specific dates, location, names of others on the committee or at the venue and includes cheery chat about the upcoming event.  Completely credible.  The Chair sends an email to the board treasurer or president for approval of this upfront expense.  Name, address, and email are supplied.  The remainder of the charges are, of course, to be paid after the event.  The treasurer either pays, or directs staff to pay the vendor as the expense is in the budget for the event.  $2578 is dispatched.  Gone.  The money is not retrievable especially if you’ve used Zelle.

How did the thief get so much detailed information?  It’s all on your website!  Event details, sponsors, vendors, committee members and getting into the email system is child’s play for the bad guys because member info is often on there too.  So, they even know the convos between members about the event!

In both of the cases, no one at the nonprofit did anything wrong.  We all love the speed of email, but now we pick up the phone on any request by email and even on mailed invoices of any size.

Think it can’t happen to you?  As the experts say, “it’s not if, but when.”

Want to help?  You’re urged to file comments with the FTC by December 16:
Submit your comment online and write “Impersonation NPRM, R207000” in your comment. Online is most expedient and highly recommended.
• All comments are due by December 16, 2022
Instructions on how to submit association comments
• Learn more about the proposed rule on Impersonation of Government and Business

Thanks to CalSAE, our association executives’ association for this encouragement for businesses of all sizes.  Stay safe out there.

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