Police warn of bogus invoices
An employee unwittingly sent a large amount of money out the door, costing a local business nearly $250,000.
April 16, an employee in the accounting department received an email from someone claiming to be the CEO of a company supplier in the United States.
The email asked for immediate payment of an outstanding invoice. A total of $236,000 was transferred. When that happened, the local firm received a second email from the same source asking for payment of another invoice.
At this point, the local employee became suspicious and brought the matter to the attention of a supervisor. An in-house investigation determined that the supplier’s email had been hacked and used to divert funds.
“The ‘CEO scam’ starts when a criminal poses as the company’s president or owner using a fake or hacked email account,” Const. Ed Sanchuk, spokesperson for the Norfolk OPP, said Friday in a news release.
“The ‘owner’ writes directly to an employee that is responsible for arranging payments or transfers of funds to suppliers. The invoice which was originally sent is, in fact, a fake. It will look just like the owner’s regular email, sent directly to someone responsible for issuing payment, making that person believe they have received a legitimate request to pay an invoice.”
Norfolk OPP offer the following tips to avoid being scammed in this manner:
- Educate employees about this scam and tell them to be skeptical of urgent or suspicious requests made by email.
- Encourage employees to always communicate with managers if they feel a request seems unusual or suspicious.
- If anyone has any doubts about an email that appears to be from someone at your company, immediately contact that person by phone before responding.
- Have policies and procedures in place requiring more than one person to approve the transfer of funds.
- Watch what you share on-line. This information can be used to gain information about you. That in turn can be used to target your company.
Anyone with information regarding this scam is encouraged to contact the Norfolk OPP at 1-888-310-1122.
Anonymous tips can also be left at Crime Stoppers of Haldimand and Norfolk at 1-800-222-8477. Callers to Crime Stoppers who help solve a crime are eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.