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Scammers use employees' direct deposit to get a hold of paychecks in latest scam

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MUSKEGO, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Scammers are trying to use employees' direct deposit to get a hold of hard-earned paychecks.

It's a disturbingly simple scam -- get HR to change the bank account that paychecks get deposited into.

In Muskego, one man caught it in time. At first, the check looked okay. It had the victim, Dan Smith's, name on it. But, he doesn't live in Menomonee Falls and it wasn't his signature on the check. Scammers were trying to pass it off to Dan's HR department at work.

"They stopped by my office and said 'did you send a notification by email?' I said 'no, I didn't,'" Smith said.

A direct deposit authorization form got filled out in his name too. Even after Dan stopped the bank account change, he says the scammers still hounded HR for confirmation.

"It happens when people rely only on email to communicate so we tell everybody if you get email that changes accounts, asks for a payment that's not traditional, make a phone call," said Jim Temmer, President and CEO of BBB of Wisconsin.

Police in Franklin say a woman had her deposit info changed while she was out of work a couple of days. She didn't know because the emails were deleted when she got back. She lost nearly $17,000 over the course of eight paychecks.

The company reimbursed her the money.

Experts urge people to have multiple passwords for different accounts and not to lose track of important papers that could have sensitive information.

"This is big business. Millions if not billions of dollars are lost by the American public every year in scams such as this, phishing scams."

Smith says he's changed his passwords and deleted social media accounts he didn't use much. 

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