There’s a rapidly growing danger that could affect your money if it is managed by a broker or financial adviser. Wire-fraud cases in the securities industry—fraudulent money transfers made over the phone or Internet—are up tenfold over the past decade, to 3,923 in 2012, and up 63% since 2011.
How the scam works: Your broker or financial adviser receives an e-mail that seems to be from a client requesting a wire transfer. For example, the client might want to send money to a daughter’s account at a bank near the college she attends. But the bogus e-mail actually is from a scammer who has gathered personal information about you online or hacked into your e-mail account.
When your adviser e-mails you back the required authorization documents to sign, the criminals can intercept it.
Under this scenario, if it is determined that your broker or adviser was negligent or didn’t follow the firm’s procedures, your account typically will be reimbursed by the firm. If the firm does not reimburse you, you can file a complaint with state regulators, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (Finra) and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Self-defense: Insist that your broker or financial adviser always phone you before wiring any of your money.