BBB: Hit delete on these phony texts posing as your work’s CEO

Milwaukee, Wis. – You may be used to getting text messages and emails from your boss, which is why a recent texting scam is so effective. Scammers find out where you work and pose as the CEO or other executive. Be on guard and don’t share money or information – be it your own or your company’s.

How the scam works

You receive a text from a number you don’t recognize, claiming to be from your boss. The sender knows your name, where you work, and your boss’s name. It seems so real! The text message might read something like this: “Hi Chris, I’m tied up in a conference call right now but let me know if you get this text. Thanks [your boss’ name].”

If you reply that you received the text, you’ll be asked to do a quick task. This could be purchasing gift cards for a client or wiring funds to another business. In some cases, the scammer may ask you to send personal information to someone, often giving you a plausible reason to carry out the request.

No matter how believable the reason sounds, always double-check before taking any action.  Once you send the money, gift cards, or information, it will be in the hands of a con artist.

How to protect yourself from impostor scams

  • Don’t trust unsolicited messages from unfamiliar numbers. If your boss regularly communicates with you via text message, save their number in your contact list. Don’t respond to potential impersonators reaching out from a different number.
  • Be wary of unusual requests. If your boss has never asked you to buy gift cards, even if the request comes from a number you’ve saved, think twice. Scammers can potentially clone phone numbers and might have hijacked your boss’ number to target employees.
  • Double-check with your boss personally. If a request comes from a strange number or just doesn’t sound right, call or email your boss first, using their real contact information, rather than replying to the message. It’s better to double-check than to rush into a scam. Plus, your boss will want to know if they are being impersonated, so they can warn their other employees.
  • If you suspect a scam, don’t reply. If you’re fairly certain you’ve been contacted by a scammer, don’t reply to the text message. Replying lets scammers know they have an active phone number and could leave you vulnerable to future attacks. Instead, block the number and delete the message.

For more information

Stay safe by reading the BBB’s tips on how to spot fake text messages and how to avoid impostor scams.  Also, read BBB’s report about the rise of business email compromise scams.

If you’ve spotted a scam, whether or not you fell victim, report it at Your report helps expose scammers’ tactics and boost consumer awareness.

Stay up to date on the latest scams by subscribing to BBB’s weekly Scam Alerts email. For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.  ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2020, people turned to BBB more than 220 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Wisconsin which was founded in 1939 and serves the state of Wisconsin.