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Who Is Barbara Corcoran? The Phishing Scam That Conned 'Shark Tank' Star Out Of $400K

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Who Is Barbara Corcoran? The Phishing Scam That Conned 'Shark Tank' Star Out Of $400K

Shark Tank "sharks" are usually pretty savvy about money. Their whole job is to analyze business pitches and decide there will be a return on investment if they decide to put up cash to help entrepreneurs get new companies off the ground. These would be the last people you would expect to see get scammed out of their cash.

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But even the smartest investors make mistakes and that's exactly what happened to Barbara Corcoran recently. The one-time real estate mogul says she lost almost $400,000 to an email phishing scam. She has tried to track down the money but admits chances are good she'll never get it back.

Who is Barbara Corcoran and how did she get suckered into a phishing scam? Read on for all the details. 

1. Who is Barbara Corcoran?

While people now know her as one of the "sharks" on Shark Tank, she made her fortune originally in real estate. The 70-year-old former business owner claims that she had 20 jobs before she was 23 and nearly flunked out of college. Her relative lack of academic success was due to dyslexia. She was working as a waitress when she decided to try real estate and had to borrow $1000 to get her idea off the ground. She took that money and turned it into a multi-billion dollar New York real estate empire.

2. She sold her company after having her first child.

Corcoran says that work was her first love until she was 46 and had her first child. Before that, she had put all of her time and effort into her company and cultivating her staff, she told reporters in 2017. Once she and her husband Bill Higgins had their first baby in 1994, she realized that she couldn't do both work and motherhood as well as she wanted to so she decided to sell Corcoran Group and focus on raising her child. 


A post shared by Barbara Corcoran (@barbaracorcoran) on Feb 14, 2020 at 8:54am PST

Corcoran and her husband Bill Higgins. 

3. Now she is on Shark Tank.

Corcoran continues working as an investor on her own now, as well as raising her second child. She has also written several books and hosts a podcast but she is most famous for her TV work. She has been one of the "sharks" on Shark Tank since the show debuted in 2009. In that time, she has invested in dozens of companies including companies that make artisan baked goods, natural cosmetics, and products for kids. 

4. What happened in the phishing scam?

Corcoran herself wasn't the one to get caught by the phishing email. Instead, her bookkeeper got an email that was allegedly from Corcoran's assistant directing hin to wire some money. “It was an invoice supposedly sent by my assistant to my bookkeeper approving the payment for a real estate renovation," Corcoran said in an interview. "There was no reason to be suspicious as I invest in a lot of real estate.”

"The detail that no one caught was that my assistant’s email address was misspelled by one letter, making it the fake email address set up by the scammers,” Corcoran continued.

The mistake was revealed when the bookkeeper sent the assistant — the real one, not the scammer — confirmation that the money had been sent. The assistant flagged the error but by then the damage was done. 

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5. Corcoran doesn't read her own email.

If you're wondering why Corcoran's assistant would be the one sending emails about big sums of money, it's because that's what she's there for. In 2018, Corcoran explained to reporters that she doesn't deal with her own work email. Instead, she has an auto-response that says, "Thank you for reaching out. I’ll not be answering your email, but if you would please forward this to [my assistant], or if you need immediate attention, please call her at the office."

Anyone who works with Corcoran — or anyone who read that article — would know how she manages email flow and could easily track down the assistant's contact info in order to fudge a convincing fake version. 

6. The money is probably gone forever.

Corcoran says that the scammer has vanished and there's not likely any way to track them down now.  The best her IT team has been able to figure out is that the email came from an IP address in China. “I was upset at first, but then remembered it was only money,” Corcoran says.

Corcoran is taking this in stride. 

7. She will move on from this little blip. 

One thing you won't hear from Corcoran is a lot of ranting and raving over the mistake. She has said that attitude is the most important factor in success. She didn't tolerate chronic complainers when she was running Corcoran Group so it's unlikely that she'll let herself wallow in self-pity over this. "Victims don’t succeed," she said in a 2017 interview

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.