Clever Wire Transfer Email Scam
For years, not-so-clever scammers found their victims through numbers. Scammers would acquire an email list of hundreds of thousands of addresses and send out a standard “scam” email. Most of these scams asked the recipient (the victim) to reply (i.e. your long-lost uncle left you 15 million dollars – reply to claim it!) or click a malicious link which might install malware on your PC. Most of these scam-attempts were relatively easy to spot! They were poorly written, came from an email address you’ve never heard of and were downright un-believable (seriously, how many long-lost uncles do you have that left you a lottery sum of money??).
The game has changed significantly. Newer scams are indicative of more computer-savvy individuals, willing to invest more time and money in their scams. Read on . . .
What’s the new scam?
“Modern” scammers are targeting and customizing their scams for specific pre-identified businesses instead of mass-emailing hundreds of thousands of random email addresses hoping for a “hit.” In other words, they’re specifically targeting YOU.
How does it work?
Assume the CFO of Gilmour Band, Inc. is email@example.com and the President is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clever scammers are purchasing a VERY SIMILAR domain and email address (email@example.com). Note the difficult to notice misspelling!
Once they own firstname.lastname@example.org they can email the President of the target company from email@example.com (who probably doesn’t notice the misspelling and thinks it’s his CFO emailing him) about a pending wire transfer that he needs to sign-off on. Trusting his CFO, the President clicks the link in the email (from the scammer) and approves a wire transfer. Clever, difficult to track and targeted.
Here’s a sample, in action:
From: David Gilmour [firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Monday, June 29, 2015 10:55 AM To: Nick Mason Subject: Payment instructions
Please process a wire of $19,611 today. This is to pay an approved invoice - I'll forward necessary support later on (invoice and W9 Form).
I will attach the wiring instructions in my next email, I will be in a meeting soon but I will monitor my email for your response.
Thanks, Dave Sent from my iPad
Why do you care?
Those random email scammer blasts that you receive cost $0 to send. Literally, a scammer can blast an email to hundreds of thousands of recipients for free.
This new scam – which we’ve seen several times over the past few weeks – requires the scammer to 1) choose a target business, 2) purchase a domain name, 3) setup an email address, 4) research the c-level executives of the target company and 5) devise the scheme.
These new scams take time and money so they are targeted to a small number of targets.
Employee training is the answer!
Have you seen a similar email shuffle through your Inbox recently? Are your employees savvy enough to recognize a malicious email? In the I.T. world, we find that no matter what steps we take, no matter what technology we implement, end-user training is the best protection against these types (and most types) of scams. Raise an eyebrow to anything that looks odd, just doesn’t feel right or that you weren’t expecting! If you’re unsure, pick up the phone and call a trusted resource.
Questions about I.T. Support and protecting your company from email scams? Call us!