‘Trust no email’ – Waterford businesses warned of new internet scam
Two companies have been defrauded of more than €650,000 between them after they fell victim to an internet email scam.
The companies lost the money after responding to what looked like legitimate invoices from suppliers. One company lost €200,000 and the other €453,000.
Criminals send emails to businesses or individuals claiming to be one of their legitimate suppliers. These emails contain a request to change the bank account details that the business has for a legitimate supplier, to bank accounts controlled by the criminals. These requests can also come by way of letter or phone call.
In many instances the business does not know it is a victim of this crime until some time later when the legitimate supplier sends a reminder invoice for payment.
Chief Supt Pat Lordan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau said the impact of such fraud on small businesses can “be catastrophic and result in the closure of businesses and redundancies”.
He urged businesses to pick up the phone and speak to somebody in the invoicing company.
One businessman who was scammed urged other businesses to “trust no email full stop” and that fraudsters can see incoming and outgoing mails which can be blocked or redirected without people being aware.
“Assume all emails incoming and outgoing in your company are always being read by fraudsters for extended periods of time and that those responsible for payments within your company are a special target for hackers and their email history is being monitored,” he added.
The businessman warned that all incoming email addresses should be checked. Simple changes such as swopping, adding or deleting letters in a mail address are commonly used to fool a business into thinking it is coming from a genuine source.