Service Based Business Society Podcast

In this eye-opening episode, Tiffany-Ann Bottcher delves deep into the dark world of scams that target businesses. She shares a personal experience of a spam extortion situation that occurred just before the launch of season three. This episode is not just about sharing a story; it's about equipping business owners with the knowledge to recognize and combat scams.

Key Highlights:

  1. Difference Between Spamming and Hacking: Understand the nuances and how they can impact your business.
  2. Real-life Scam Experience: Tiffany-Ann recounts a harrowing experience with a vendor and the subsequent threats she faced.
  3. Types of Scams: From old-fashioned directory scams to sophisticated phishing scams, learn about the various tactics scammers employ.
  4. Voice Cloning: A deep dive into how scammers can replicate voices, potentially leading to misinformation and fraud.
  5. Protection and Prevention: Tips on how to safeguard your business, trust your instincts, and the importance of research.

Join Tiffany-Ann as she emphasizes the importance of awareness in the digital age. Whether you're a seasoned business owner or just starting out, this episode is a must-listen to ensure you're equipped to protect your business empire.

About The Host

Tiffany-Ann, a multitasking maven balancing life as a mother of three, agency leader, and an insightful business strategist, has been pivotal in guiding numerous businesses to success. Her unique blend of strategy, technology, and passion for well-being offers a refreshing approach to modern entrepreneurship.

To connect with Tiffany-Ann you can follow her on the below platforms:


What is Service Based Business Society Podcast?

Attention entrepreneurs! Are you looking for ways to scale your service-based business without sacrificing your sleep? Look no further than The Service Based Business Society Podcast, hosted by Tiffany-Ann Bottcher.

Each week, Tiffany-Ann shares valuable insights on productivity, business strategies, marketing trends, and tech secrets that you need to know in order to take your business to the next level. She firmly believes that a successful service-based business must prioritize an amazing client experience and sustainable, predictable, repeatable profit, and she'll teach you how to do just that.

But that's not all - Tiffany-Ann also invites expert guests to share their knowledge and experience with you, providing even more valuable insights on service-based business growth and sustainability. You won't want to miss a single episode!

If you're looking to create, grow, and optimize your service-based business, The Service Based Business Society Podcast is the perfect resource for you.

And don't forget to join the community on Facebook by searching for "Service Based Business Society."

Focused on helping entrepreneurs cultivate the right mindset for success in their businesses. Hosted by experts in the field, the podcast covers a range of topics related to mindset and business, including self-improvement, goal setting, visualization, and meditation. The podcast provides practical tools and strategies to help listeners develop a growth mindset, overcome limiting beliefs, and build confidence. Through inspiring interviews with successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders, the podcast shows that a positive and resilient mindset is key to achieving business success.

Dedicated to equipping business leaders with the knowledge and skills they need to lead with confidence, based on data-driven insights. Hosted by experts in business leadership, the podcast covers a range of topics related to data analysis and interpretation, strategic decision-making, and effective communication. It provides practical tools and strategies for interpreting complex data sets and using them to make informed business decisions that drive growth and success. Through engaging interviews with successful business leaders and industry experts, the podcast offers valuable insights and examples of how to use data to build strong teams and drive innovation.

A great resource for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to learn from the experiences of successful business owners. Through relatable and engaging entrepreneurship stories, the podcast provides valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities that come with starting and running a business. Hosted by experienced entrepreneurs, the podcast covers a range of topics related to entrepreneurship, including idea generation, product development, marketing, and fundraising. Each episode features inspiring interviews with successful entrepreneurs, who share their personal stories and provide practical advice and tips for those looking to start and grow their own businesses.

As businesses continue to evolve, it's essential for entrepreneurs and business owners to stay informed about the latest trends and best practices in marketing, bookkeeping, technology, and innovation. The podcast is a valuable resource for anyone looking to keep up with these changes and stay ahead of the competition.

Whether you are just starting out or looking to take your business to the next level, this podcast is a great source of inspiration and guidance from real-world examples of entrepreneurship success.

Brought to you by Bottcher Business Management Agency

Hey, guys. Welcome back to another episode. Today, we're going a little darker. We're going a little deeper. We're going a little darker. When I talked about what was coming up for season 3 here on the podcast, I didn't know that we would be doing an episode on this topic. But it became very clear to me that it was so important. It was important to me as a business owner to share this story.

in a way that could help others. It's important to share the stories of some other business owners that have either been a part of their journey, maybe they were a client, you know, maybe I've just been a mentor. This is a very important topic and it is only becoming more important every single day. So a little bit of backstory and how this episode came to light.

About ten days before the season three launch of the podcast, we actually experienced a spam extortion type situation. And, you know, I'll go into a little bit of details what that means. A lot of people who I've spoken to are like, oh, you were hacked. We were not hacked.

So, and what is the difference between spamming and hacking is a great place to start. You know, when someone hacks you, they are infiltrating your systems, your profile, your security. When somebody is spamming you, they're not actually accessing your stuff. Oftentimes, they have duplicated your stuff to pretend to be you, is one common way. Or,

They're doing something and they're in contact with you. There's so many different types of scams and we're going to go over, five super common ones to look out for as a business owner. We're going to talk a little bit about the different things that are going on out there and what to be looking for, because knowledge is power. So actually, for us, what had happened is we were working with a vendor, and that vendor did not deliver on the set agreed upon work.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher:
We did not continue with the vendor and we moved forward. There were some guarantees in the service agreement, they were not met and we carried on. Because the fact is, a lot of times, fighting over certain values just is not a good use of anybody's time. And depending on where the vendor is located, there's this anonymous nature of working with vendors.

all over the world. And, you know, I, I talk a lot about the right person for the job and, you know, that there's this benefit to accessing global talent and all of these things.

But this, you know, it doesn't always work. It doesn't always work with local vendors. It doesn't work with global vendors. It's a human problem, not a location problem. But what had happened is one of their employees apparently didn't get paid. And so now, you know, the really short version is it became very clear that it had nothing to do with their employee and being paid or not paid or whatever.

Because while that employee's legal team, and if you're watching this on video you see me doing the, you know, the finger quotes, the legal team, which seemed very much like chat GPT, was reaching out to us on the employee's behalf looking to be paid. And while I'm a Canadian, the expression that the Americans use of, I don't negotiate with terrorists,

really became very clear here. This was something I kept focusing on. Because while the amount of money that they were asking for wasn't huge, I knew that it was the tip of the iceberg. And I made it very clear that we would not be paying. And they made it very clear that I would regret that decision in a number of emails. Anyway, you know, the short version is they, these people, whether it be the legal team for the employee,

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (04:34.102)
the agency itself, a group of scammers on behalf of that, you know, it became very clear as we tried to track this scam down that they were using a lot of VPN technology and hiding in the shadows for sure. But, you know, what were they saying? They were saying, we will tarnish your reputation online until you feel pain. And we will not stop until you pay. And we will remove it when you do pay. And they became.

incessant everywhere we were online.

commenting, they had taken screenshots of our profiles and put big red Xs on them and we're posting them everywhere with these big long messages about how we were scammers. And I'll be clear, there is definitely a scammer in this situation and it is not us. And so anyway, we're blocking, we're deleting, we're doing as best we can. There's certain things that we can't, you know, those darn Google reviews.

You can file with Google to have them removed, say they're fake, even show that they have threatened to leave you one star reviews unless you pay them. Google hasn't yet at this point done anything about it. But all of that, super stressful in the moment, very stressful in the moment. But what was worse was any damage that they were doing to anyone else.

that was in my network. So if I had commented on a Facebook post, they were going to that post, even though it was on someone else's profile and they were commenting and leaving these pictures and whatnot. But you gotta love the good business owners that fought back on my behalf, really saying like, hey, I don't know Tiffany Anne personally. I've never worked with her personally, but this is not appropriate. This is not an appropriate way to deal with a business dispute.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher:
So you need to find another channel.

At the moment, things have settled down. I say that because really they could come back. They were spamming on social media. They were spamming our website, filling up every available appointment on the consult calendar, leaving one star reviews. Super messy. As a business owner, a lot of anxiety because you can't really do a whole lot in that moment. You work so hard.

put out great content to network with people. And now you have these people who are literally saying, I will do whatever it takes to damage this online reputation until you pay us. So, you know, fast forward. I didn't pay them. I have no intention of paying. I will not pay. And, you know.

It was only through this process that I reached out into some other entrepreneur groups saying, hey, has anybody experienced this? What did you do to get it solved? Is there anything else? In that moment, you feel very helpless. What can I do? The online space, you live, you know, as business owners, we often live very publicly in the online space, sharing our lives, sharing business, all these types of things.

But as many online profile personalities have told you, you open yourself up to criticism as well. And so, what did we do? Well, we reigned things in on social media because I didn't want there to be more posts for them to keep commenting on. I wanted to reign that in. And I'll be honest, because that was happening right around the podcast launch, season three launch.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher:
There was definitely some discussions with the podcast team to say, hey, should we be running the launch right now? Because we do the launch, we share the video content, we share on YouTube, we share the podcast, we share posts about the content. Now we're in this launch, and should we be launching if we're trying to tail back social media?

And I decided, no, you know what, the show must go on. Because here's the thing. What became very clear to me at the beginning was that nobody was really believing them. Because what they were doing seemed so scammy, the way they were doing it. And even if people didn't know me well, if they'd seen me online a little bit, it didn't seem like something wasn't quite aligning with what these people were saying.


Tiffany-Ann Bottcher:
Here's what we know. After reaching out in some of these groups, a lot of business owners, so many business owners, really have dealt with scam problems of a variety of sorts. We're going to dive into those. But most people were doing it quietly because they didn't want to say, hey, I have a problem. I didn't have a choice because they were

the scammers were so publicly attacking. I didn't have a choice of whether I could handle it super privately. But what I learned was that there were a lot of business owners that had been scammed in a number of different ways. And it really made me reflect back on, hey, we need to talk about this. Because scamming has become more and more advanced.

Here's the thing, a lot of the old fashioned scams are still working, so they're still ongoing, but we're adding new scams to the mix. So we're gonna talk about a few different types of scams today and you know, knowledge is power. You wanna know some of these things exist. You wanna know if the capabilities out there. You know, there's this great, you know, on TikTok, Perogi is this, he chases the scammers.

Very interesting channel. Aside from being quite entertaining, he's a great content creator. It also teaches you the capabilities. And I truly think with evolving technology, we need to know. We talk about all sorts of things about technology and the opportunities it brings and the automations and AI and all of these pieces. But we also must really focus on what are the challenges.

What downsides can it bring if misused? Because not everyone uses everything for good. Not everyone's using ChatGPT to plan out their social captions for the next month in a short time frame. We wish, but we know that's not the case. So we're going to dive in. We're going to talk about a few different types of scams. So old fashioned scam, it's called the directory scam.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher:
It comes in a variety of different ways, but typically it is where a scammer is contacting a business in some way to say, hey, you signed up for this or your renewal is overdue. I've seen it where, you know, going back 10 years, they would actually ship DVDs to business owners and then they would, and you'd be like, hey, like, what is this DVD? And you'd throw it on your desk and you'd like not worry about it. Like, where did this come from? And then about...

six weeks later you'd get a letter in the mail that said, hey you need to pay this or you're going to collections. And a lot of times people be like what did I what did I do I sign up for that? Oh I do remember those DVDs huh. And so people were paying where you'd get an invoice and it was like hey your such-and-such renewal is due. You know process your payment to avoid late fees blah blah.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher:
super common scam.

I can tell you I've seen so many business owners over the years caught in this one. And we catch it on the bookkeeping side where we're like, hey, what is this? Where did you pay? Hang on, where did you pay this? And oftentimes if you search the business, the directory, like the whatever invoice they've sent you, you start searching online and it, you know, other people have talked about it being a scam. So what is the lesson there? If you're not sure, do a little Google research. Google the phone number.

Google the address, Google the business name, whatever information you do have, let's get on Google and let's see what it is leading to. Have other people experience the same thing? So many times people think, I don't want it to go to collections, I don't want it to affect my credit, and they pay. But it's not always due. A lot of times those ones are scams. Okay, the next one.

is a phishing scam. And what is a phishing scam? Well these come in all shapes and sizes, but oftentimes it is receiving a link that looks like it's from a reputable source, but it's not. So these are super common on Facebook and a lot of people are impersonating Facebook on Facebook. Absolutely crazy.

They'll say, your profile is not in compliance. You need to click this link. Your business profile is going to be removed. Click the link. Also common are the text messages. Hey, you have not deposited this bank transfer yet. Click here. Or it's from the shipping company. Hey, your parcel is almost here. Be sure to approve the delivery. And in your mind, you think, what parcel is that? Oh, I forget what I even ordered.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher:
And while people get busier, if it's well done, the links look believable. It's the emails we receive. It's any types of, it's SMS, it's social media messages, it's email, it's all these types of things where basically people want you to click on something and something bad is gonna happen.

You don't want to click the link, don't click the link. If you wonder if you should click the link, don't click the link. Always do some more research. And here's, you know, on the emails and the social media, what's the fastest way to really verify? Look at who sent it. And not just the name of who sent it, because, you know, like, you know how you can put your first name and your last name on your email, some people have their company name on their email, you could change, you know, you can put your nickname on your email.

Well, people can put whatever name they want on their email. But when you actually look at the address, the email address, or the username on social media. So while the message might look super legit, the sender is usually the giveaway. So always look at the sender. We had, now going years back, I was in corporate. And one morning, I'm sitting at my desk, and I receive an email from someone on our management team.

It says, and the email says, hey, I need you to get this invoice paid right away. I totally forgot about it. And they are really uppity. We need to get this paid right away. Can you please process this first thing today? Server management, level person.

emails come in, this person does forget to pay things sometimes, like forget to bring in invoices sometimes, so it's not a completely unbelievable story. But if you look really closely at the domain of the email, so it's like name at, there were two letters of the domain that were reversed. And if you've ever been scrolling social media and you see those like games,

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher:
on social media that's like, can you read this? We know that a lot of times in a word, a couple of letters reversed in the middle, our brain doesn't even see it. It just, it sees the beginning of the word, the end of the word, and we keep going. So, you know, how elaborate was that particular scam? Well, they went, they did their homework, the scammers, they got a domain very close. One letter off of our business domain, looked up.

who would be the person who would be issuing payments. So at that time I was financial controller. So they looked that up on the website, looked that up on LinkedIn. Then they look up who would potentially be sending those kinds of requests to me. And off they go.

It was when, it was moments after I got the email, that person actually walked past my office door. And I was like, hey, can we talk about that? And he's like, talk about what? And I was like, the email you sent me, requesting payment. This vendor looks like, what is this for?

And it became very clear immediately it was a scam. But it was one of those pieces that, depending on how closely someone's paying attention, those kinds of things can slip through. Very common business scam, very common. And one of the next business scams, super common, this is a personal scam, a business scam, all sorts of, is tech support. So scammers pose as a tech support representative

claiming to have detected some kind of issue on the system, and they are going to now help you, hint, it's not helpful. They're gonna help you fix your computer. And so they're going to be remote accessing your computer. So they're gonna send you some kind of link or some kind of team viewer, remote desktop, some kind of...

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher:
situation like this, they're gonna be able to see and control your screen. Here is where this gets very tricky, and this is one of those knowledge is power you need to know this is possible. By adjusting some code on a website while it is open, you can change what is shown on the screen. So while you can't actually change what is on the website, like if you hit refresh, whatever changes you've made,

go away, in that moment, the scammer can show you whatever they want on the screen with just a couple of small changes to the code. So, you know, and back to kind of the discussion about the TikTok account I was mentioning, you know, super common for them to these types of scammers to contact seniors and then show them like bank account numbers. But the numbers are fake.

It is all done by code that is only changing what is shown on the screen visually in that moment. So they're doing a remote desktop, you're letting this person onto your computer, that person is changing a few things so that they can show you, maybe instead of 5,000, it says 50,000, maybe instead of 50,000, it says 500. Just very quickly, a little bit of change, and then they're using those changes to influence what you do next. So...

for the senior scams, that's, hey, we've over-refunded you, is the common one. Oh, no, we've sent you 5,000 instead of 500. OK, well, in order for us to get that back, you're going to need to go and get some money and send it to me. You're going to have to mail it to me right now. Scam, scam, scam. That's when that red flag needs to go off, that, hey, this is not OK.

But here is the last one we're going to talk about right now. And it ties into the discussion earlier about chat GPT. And this is one I've actually talked to my kids a lot about. This affects businesses. This affects humans. This is a super serious scam.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher:
Voice cloning is readily and easily available to anyone online. And it is so easy to train that by taking just a little bit of someone's voice from online. So someone can take this podcast, they could take a YouTube video, if you talk lots on social media, if you do lives, if you do you know any kind of short form video. They can take that voice and they can create

basically a voice double. So for someone who wants to use that for training videos is a great for good purpose. If you wanna be able to maybe re-record parts of a podcast that you made a mistake, those are all different options. There are people who are doing faceless YouTube videos with these automated voices, some of which are just AI voices and some of which are actual voice.

recreations of someone, a human's own voice. So it's not all bad. In fact, it's very cool and exciting technology, but in the wrong hands, like anything, too much of a good thing in the wrong hands is not a good thing. What people are doing is they're creating videos or creating voice recordings of people saying and asking for things that is not true. So.

You know, in business, that could be someone impersonating your voice and authorizing something, asking your team to do something. On the personal side, it could be, you know, someone saying to your children, hey, I'm not going to make it there by, you know, the end of school, but, you know, Bob is going to pick you up. Don't worry about it. It's all great. I'll see you at home. It's totally fine. And it sounds just like you.

Absolutely terrifying. And so definitely something you wanna talk to anyone. The more you put yourself online, the more you open yourself up to criticism, the more you, there's a lot of discussion about people who posting pictures of their kids or not posting pictures of their kids because once they're online, there's really not much you can do about it. I think that is a specific parent choice. My kids are online.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher:
maybe as much as they used to be, but they are online. But when it comes to putting, you need to know the risks, know what you're reaching, what to watch out for. And so in this instance, of course, there's been a lot of discussion. Why did this come up for us now? And I think it really comes down to the more you're online, the more you think that someone, they think, oh.

She has a business that she wants to protect. I wonder what that's worth to her. Well, let's find out. So there's a couple of pieces that come of this. Number one, we need to know what to look for. We need to be aware. Stranger danger. But we can't just run and hide because if we're using the internet, social media, SMS marketing, emails, all of these things.

for growing our businesses, well then like we have to, it's not a matter of being able to just shut it off, it's a matter of being able to learn how to manage it safely and deal with what comes up. And so, you know, we've talked about a few different types of scams today. And ultimately it is really not making hasty decisions. We actually had a customer recently who

They received a payment. It was a rush order. The person said, hey, I found you on Google. I really want to get this done. Need it done right away, right away.

And then all of a sudden there was a last minute cancellation and they were pushing really hard for the refund. Like really hard, really fast. Like, we need that refund today. And I was like, but you have a zero refund policy. And they were pushing so hard and I said, my spidey senses are tingling with the pressure on the timeline.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher:
of the refund. And it turned out that the payment had not cleared the bank. And so had she refunded as quickly as they wanted her to, she would have been not just giving them their own money back because their money never transferred to her account, she would have been giving them her money. It was a total scam. The whole thing was a scam. So when something, you know that old expression, when something seems too good to be true,

It usually is. When something just doesn't feel right in your gut, when you're like, something feels off, or all of a sudden you're getting all of these messages about something not being right, you know? Follow your gut and just do a little homework, a little Googling. You know? This is your big tip for this week's episode. Google the names. Google the phone numbers.

You can take a phone number that you receive and plunk it into Google, and it's going to show anywhere online that phone number has been used for a business or name or whatnot. And sometimes you'll get nothing. But sometimes you'll be surprised. When we were middle of the heat of the scam recently, and we were looking at IP addresses, and we were looking to see... Now, there's technology that prevents people from...

IP addresses from showing, so it's not super reliable. But you know what? We were willing to look and see what was there. And one of the IP addresses led us directly to someone's LinkedIn profile. The IP address was linked to a business name and address. That was linked to a person. And so within a matter of seconds, now there's no guarantee that maybe they weren't

sharing an office space or it was a co-working space or that they were using everything. That's the dangerous part is that you can really tarnish someone else's reputation. We didn't do anything with the information.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher:
But the lesson here is research, don't panic, don't pay out of panic. You know, oh, it's gonna affect your credit. Okay, but I've never heard of you, so let's just, let's do a little research first. And you know, I hope that our situation has dissipated, but we...

We'll deal with what comes. And I share this story because it's a lesson. It's a lesson for business owners to know that if you have experienced this and you have struggled with it, it's out there, you're not alone. If you have clicked on a link or sent money or allowed it, it happens. These scammers are skilled. They practice over and over and over again.

And so maybe they caught you at the wrong moment, you weren't paying attention and you thought, oh, what is this? Click, done. It happens. But, you know, it's a matter about moving forward and knowledge is power and protecting yourself and your business. So, that's all for today.