Here’s one to file in the irony department, or perhaps use as a dictionary definition of the word: Stu Sjouwerman, founder and CEO of KnowBe4, a Clearwater-based cybersecurity company that has nearly 1,000 employees and has been valued at $800 million, has become a victim of identity theft.
Sjouwerman, who in 2019 was named one of the Business Observer’s Top Entrepreneurs, acknowledged the incident in a blog post on the firm’s website. He says someone used his social security number to apply for a Small Business Administration loan and file an unemployment claim. The perpetrator also created a fake Facebook profile using Sjouwerman’s name.
Whoever created the Facebook account, Sjouwerman writes, made the mistake of contacting KnowBe4 employees, likely with the intent to perpetrate a financial scam. The fraudster also goofed up by listing his or her residence as Kampala, Uganda, and saying he or she attended NKumba University. The scammer also sent Facebook Messenger messages written in templated, broken English, leading Sjouwerman to theorize that the digital hijacking was a “modern-day clumsy equivalent of the Nigerian 419 scam.”
Sjouwerman admits to being entertained by the amateurish scheme but says it’s also frustrating.
“There is an old Dutch expression: ‘High trees catch a lot of wind,’” he writes. “Well, once you get in the public eye there … you become a bigger target of identity theft.”
Sjouwerman adds, “Good thing I froze my accounts with the credit bureaus quite a few years ago. I strongly suggest you do the same!”
KnowBe4 generated $120 million in gross revenue in 2018, nearly double the $62 million it posted in 2017.