Classic email scam earns thieves $44m in a single heist

Classic email scam earns thieves $44m in a single heist

  • 2016-09-02
  • 50

Earlier in August, leading cable manufacturer Leoni AG announced it has fallen victim to an online scam that has cost the company a staggering $44 million in funds. Following two weeks of investigation, new details have surfaced today and it was revealed the thieves used the oldest trick in the book to swindle Leoni.

The attackers cunningly cooked up emails to appear like legitimate payment requests and proceeded to send them to a satellite of Leoni in Bistrita, Romania, Softpedia reports.

The fraudulent messages were then received and handled by one of the companies financial officers, who then proceeded to honor all the invoices, paying out $44 million in the process.

According to the Romanian Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), the scammers had extensive knowledge about the internal procedures for approving and processing transfers at Leoni.

Targeting the factory in Bistrita doesn’t appear to be random either. The company has four branches in Romania, but the factory in Bistrita is the only one in the country authorized to move funds. This made the attack less suspicious as the branch frequently received such requests from high-ranking executives from Germany.

While it’s not clear where the stolen funds are now, unconfirmed reports speculate the money was transferred to a bank account in the Czech Republic.

Leoni is not the first company to fall for a classic email scam this year. Earlier in 2016, toy manufacturer Mattel came close to losing $3 million in a phishing campaign.

Back in April, the FBI released a report claiming that more than 17,000 people across the globe have been tricked into similar scams over the last 2 years. This amounts to more than $2.3 billion lost in fraud incidents. Yowza.

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