“I’ve had big orders, but not that big — it’s huge,” Sarah Johnson recalled herself saying when she received an e-mail order for 450 cupcakes.
Johnson works out of her Cobb County home producing “Sarah’s Heavenly Cupcakes.” She was also surprised the e-mail looked like a forward from a popular baking show, “Cupcake Wars.”
She searched for the show’s contact information and it seemed to match, she said.
“It was a legit email address for Cupcake Wars casting season 7,” Johnson said.
But Johnson told Channel 2′s Linda Stouffer that when she tried to confirm the order, the emailer demanded specifics that set off red flags.
She was instructed to run the credit card and wire a delivery fee to another address.
“On top of the total order of $912, I would need you to add $750 for the freight that is going to pick up the order in a warming truck,” Johnson said she was told.
Computer security expert Gregory Evans with Hi-Tech Crime Solutions said hackers seem to be targeting small local businesses that don’t have big
IT departments to protect them.
“That’s the scary part, they prey on them because they feel you have no
He said by connecting the e-mail to the baker with a trusted industry company, the criminals made the inquiry look more legitimate.
“It could be a local restaurant or anything, it’s not just cupcakes –
these guys are specifically targeting, this is getting more sophisticated,” Evans said.
Evans was even surprised to hear one detail that took the deception even further:
After Johnson asked for a confirmation phone call, the hacker called using a hearing-impaired operator service, so she never heard the person’s voice.
Evans suggests business owners double-check unusual orders. In Johnson’s case, that made a big difference. He also recommends Pay-Pal forInternet transactions and that small business websites include a form to submit inquiries and orders, but not direct e-mail.
Stouffer also called the Food
Network. A spokesperson says an e-mail account was temporarily hacked, but it was a one-time problem and is now fixed. She told Stouffer they have not received any other complaints about the phony emails.
Johnson wants to warn other business owners about this type of scheme. She picked up the scam before she lost any money or cupcakes, but she tells Stouffer,
fair — we work hard for what we do and it’s not fair the people who are scamming — they just get away with it.”