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The Cybercrime Files- Case # 102: The $50,000 Email!

*This is a true account of a local cybercrime. However, the names of the victims and businesses have been changed to protect their identities. To learn more about Cyber Security Services in Akron, OH click here.


INVESTIGATIVE REPORT

OFFENSE: Email Hacking & Wire Fraud

VICTIM:  Property Management Company

LOCATION: Cuyahoga Falls, OH

DATE: 12-21-18

LEAD INVESTIGATOR: Patrick Carroll

NOTES: The moment I arrived on scene both the CEO and CFO of the property management company asked me the same question: “how in the world did this happen to us?” The harsh truth, I told them, is that cyber criminals are getting wiser and more deceitful by the day. As soon as you let your guard down, they’re right there to take advantage.

According to the CFO here’s what went down:

The CFO received and urgent email from the CEO asking that he wire $50,000 immediately into a client’s account. The CEO wrote in the email that he was in a meeting and didn’t have time to wire the money himself.

Not wanting to question his boss or bother him during an important meeting, the CFO made the transfer. Later that day the CFO ran into the CEO and let him know the wire transfer went through. “What wire transfer?,” the CEO asked. Right then the CFO knew he had made a huge mistake.

FINDINGS:

  • Someone hacked into the CEO’s email and monitored his incoming and outgoing email communications.
  • Using the CEO’s email (as well as his style of writing) the hacker emailed the CFO and asked him to wire the money.
  • Because the email was sent from the CEO’s “secure” email, the CFO deemed it to be legit.
  • The CFO wired the money to a bank account provided by the CEO (aka, the hacker).

FORTUNATELY…

Because it was such a large sum of money, the wire transfer had not yet cleared when the CFO realized his mistake. He was able to cancel the transfer and get back the $50,000 before it was gone forever.

LESSONS:

Always be on the lookout for email scams!

If you receive an email from someone you don’t know, or even from someone you do know that looks suspicious, don’t assume anything! Often referred to as phishing scams, hackers will pose as friends, family members, or charitable organizations requesting that you send them emergency funds. They will also use email to upload software into your computer that gives them access to your accounts, passwords, and sensitive data.

In addition, these same emails will often contain ransomware and other programs that can lock you out of your data. The hacker will then ask you to send money to get your own data back! More on this in our next blog post!!!

Check out this page for some of the latest email scams to look out for.