CEO fraud is a ‘whale’ of an email scam

Con artists are no longer content to phish for small targets – now they are trying to hook a whale.

“Whaling” is another version of email phishing attacks that is gaining momentum. While most phishing attacks cast a wide net, hoping to attract as many victims as possible with a variety of email scams, whaling is a scheme where the scammers target the CEO or other highly placed executives – in other words, the “big fish” in an organization.

Scammers generally infect the executives’ email by first sending an anodyne email that resembles correspondence from a trustworthy source, like a vendor or the IT department or a client. When the executive downloads the attachment, clicks on the link or, in some more sophisticated schemes, simply opens the email, malware is downloaded onto the computer.

The malefactor then has access to financial data, passwords, personal information of clients and employees – just about everything.

Another version of this scam – or the second step of the scam – is when the scammer then spoofs the CEO’s legitimate email to try to fool employees into paying invoices or sending out confidential tax information.

We have seen instances where an email was spoofed and the scammer was communicating with the CEO’s employees, but the CEO was never seeing the correspondence.

Even as the sophistication in these types of schemes improves, awareness remains the best form of defense.

Always check to see if the name that appears when hovering over the sender’s email address matches. This is only the first line of defense, though. When an email is compromised, the victim’s actual email address is used, so this is not a fail-safe measure.

Pay attention to your clients’ or customers’ habits. If you have a client or customer who is suddenly sending you random emails that are outside of their normal style of operation then closely scrutinize these emails. We recently noticed that one of our client’s emails had been spoofed in one of these scams. We were able to catch it because we noticed correspondence coming in at odd times. Specifically, this client typically emails us a batch of invoices to pay in the morning and then leaves his office for the evening. The email in question came to us after he had sent his normal daily email and when he would have been out of the office.

Always question new vendor invoices.  If you receive an invoice from a new vendor you should verbally confirm with the vendor or the person who sent the invoice that it is legitimate. The invoice amount in the example with our client was very high, which caused our team member to question it. However, the more savvy criminals will submit smaller invoices and hope to fly under the radar.  They will also send out tester invoices to see what they can get away with.

Delete first and ask questions later.  It is always better to delete a suspicious email before accidentally opening Pandora’s Box by clicking on an infected link or attachment. As stated above, victims’ emails are compromised when they click on a link, open an attachment or, in some cases, simply open the email.

Don’t reuse passwords for critical services and definitely don’t use your internal network access password for any other service. This one almost needs no explanation. If you reuse passwords, you are giving criminals easy access to everything you are working to secure.

Take advantage of multifactor authentication. We recommend going one step further and using multifactor authentication methods whenever possible. Multifactor authentication requires that you provide multiple pieces of known information in order to have access to a site. For instance, you would enter your password, which would prompt a code to be sent to your phone. You would then enter this code to access the site.

Using a password management system like LastPass is way to manage various passwords and reduce the urge to use easy-to-remember passwords.

Implementing strong security measures is the No. 1 way to protect your business, your employees and your customers. Please contact us if you would like to learn more.

Recent Articles:

Follow Antares CPAs:

Thank you for registering!

You will receive an email confirmation soon, and we look forward to seeing you at the Antares Wealth Symposium.

Make your room reservation now.

Use the link below to get a special room rate at the gorgeous Hotel Contessa where our symposium is being held.

Save my place!

Complete this short form to reserve your place at the free Antares Wealth Symposium. Watch for your confirmation email and we look forward to seeing you in San Antonio.

Contact Info
Guest Info

To help with meal planning, please indicate how many from your group will be attending each event.

Monday Dinner

Tuesday Breakfast

Tuesday Lunch

Dietary Restrictions
Other Accommodations
Contact Info
Guest Info

To help with meal planning, please indicate how many from your group will be attending each event.

Monday Dinner

Tuesday Breakfast

Tuesday Lunch

Dietary Restrictions
Other Accommodations

Succession & Transition Strategies

Creating a successful succession plan is about protecting the future of a business and/or brand and ensuring there is a strategy in place to ensure your business continues to thrive.

After years of investing time, money and other resources, it’s imperative to prepare for this next stage in business and life. Poor planning can increase risks for stakeholders and tarnish legacies. Let’s make sure the next generation is well-equipped and ready to take your life’s work and family legacy to an even greater level of success.

Each situation is unique because the needs of each one involved are unique. We carefully review each opportunity to determine how best to structure a transition while meeting your goals, complying with any brand licensing polices and minimizing the tax implications of the transfer.

  • Next generation succession planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Wealth management

Let's get started.

Call us at 770.785.7855 Or email

Technology Services

Antares Group’s technology team provides convenient hardware and software support, along with comprehensive cloud accounting services with 24/7 access to up-to-date financial information exactly the way you want it, on any connected device, with a customizable dashboard interface. We use best-in class cloud accounting platforms and software including Sage Intacct, and robot process automation (RPA) with integration capabilities with some of the leading point-of-sale, payroll, and business operations management software programs.

Cloud accounting is just the beginning; Antares Group’s experienced technology team also performs system evaluations and makes recommendations for products and services that will help your business run more efficiently, as well as protecting your information and infrastructure with robust security options. Using the right technology for automation will simplify your life and keep your valuable data safe..

  • Technology and security optimization
  • Complete cloud accounting services
  • Computer troubleshooting assistance with remote and onsite repair

Let's get started.

Call us at 770.785.7855 Or email

Business Planning & Valuation

An accurate understanding of your company’s current value and financial viability is vital for achieving business success and the launch pad to boundless possibilities in the years to come. Realistic valuations are essential for long-term strategic plans, business successions and expansions, gift and estate planning, and a lucrative retirement package. Planning for where you want to go in the future is what our business and tax advisors do best. Whatever your goals, we are here to provide you with the right plan and insightful guidance to achieve it.

  • Trend reporting and analysis and business valuation
  • General business and start-up consulting
  • Major reinvestment planning
  • Cash flow projections

Let's get started.

Call us at 770.785.7855 Or email

Back Office Solutions

In such a fast-moving business environment, business owners need every advantage to succeed. Improving efficiency should be an ongoing part of your strategy for financial success, empowering you to make continuous improvements.

Whether your business is a single location seeking to grow effectively and sustainably, an established franchise brand adding new locations, or something in between, Antares Group provides a suite of back office services and the financial expertise to help business owners and managers achieve their operational and financial goals. In the process of supporting your essential back office operations with practical solutions, we analyze the function and effectiveness, looking for inefficiencies and potential liabilities, offering valuable insights for owners and managers.

  • Daily deposit verification and online banking monitoring
  • Process invoices and code general ledger accounts
  • Process vendor payments and file 1099s
  • Prepare and file sales and use tax returns
  • Reconcile bank, credit card and cashless sales accounts

Let's get started.

Call us at 770.785.7855 Or email

Tax Advisory

Minimizing your tax burden is a year-round strategy; planning for and preparing complex business and individual tax returns is where Antares Group excels. Beyond simply helping you fulfill basic tax obligations, you can rely on our tax advisory team to keep you informed of ever-changing regulations and keep you in compliance. We conduct regular reviews to make sure all methods of reducing your tax liabilities are being used. We routinely assess your personal income tax situation and cash flow to guard against the unexpected. This ongoing strategic analysis empowers you to maximize tax savings and capitalize on new opportunities.

In addition, we provide advisory services for new business startups, acquisitions, and dispositions. Through careful analysis, we help clients determine the best structure and make the process as seamless as possible.

  • Business and individual year-end tax returns
  • Personal property, gift, and trust income tax returns
  • Fixed asset setup and maintenance
  • Annual tax planning and preparation

Let's get started.

Call us at 770.785.7855 Or email

Cloud Accounting

Whether you run a small closely held business or a large franchise operation, maintaining a firm grasp of accounting and bookkeeping can be challenging. Between managing staff and overseeing daily operations, there is not enough time to dig into the books and make sense of the financials. You need to know the facts and the implications. – having precise, up-to-date information at hand means you always know your financial position so you can make informed decisions that keep your business moving forward.

The financial experts at Antares can create a custom menu of accounting and tax services perfectly catered to your business needs, including accurate and timely financial statements and reports, so you are always prepared to respond quickly to changing and challenging circumstances. Along the way, we provide clear feedback and financial guidance to help you predict trends and recognize issues, then make the necessary adjustments to sustain cash flow throughout the year.

  • Timely preparation of financial statements based on your particular needs
  • Complete preparation of sales, payroll, inventory, accrual, and prepaid journal entries
  • Meticulous monthly bank and credit card reconciliations

Antares Cloud Accounting services uses industry leading Sage Intacct managment software to provide the precise, up-to-date information you need to always know your financial position, so you can make well-informed decisions.

Call us at 770.785.7855 Or email