‘Think before you click’ – Firms in Ireland lose almost €6m to email fraud in 2021 | #phishing | #scams

Almost €6m was stolen from Irish-based companies via fraudulent emails last year, according to new figures.

While this total represents a 48% decrease on the sum stolen in 2020, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) has warned that email scams are becoming ever-more sophisticated, with businesses ranging from small enterprises to larger corporations being continually targeted.

Business email compromise fraud, also known as invoice re-direct fraud, is where a fraudster sends an email to an individual or a business pretending to be a supplier and asks for an invoice to be paid immediately. They will usually say this is because they have moved bank.

Thereafter, a new IBAN and BIC code will be supplied, meaning the target may not realise they have been defrauded until the real supplier makes contact.

The fraudsters will usually have compromised the sender’s details so that their email address and even the invoice provided can appear completely legitimate.

Once the target has paid, the stolen money is then transferred abroad, often to jurisdictions from where it cannot be easily recovered.

Chief Superintendent Pat Lordan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB). File Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Speaking at the launch of GNECB Fraud Awareness Week this morning, Detective Chief Superintendent Pat Lordan said awareness was key to ensuring businesses did not fall victim to this type of fraud.

“Just because the total is down doesn’t mean this has gone away,” he said.

“The €6m stolen is still money going directly into the pockets of criminal organisations.” 

Det. Chief Supt Lordan urged businesses to be sceptical of any requests for one-off payments received via email.

“Think before you click. Think to yourself: ‘Is this a normal matter?'”

“If you have doubts, delay the transfer, pick up the phone and verify the account details given,” he said.

Any businesses that do fall victim to such frauds should first contact their bank for an immediate recall and then notify their local garda station.

“Early reporting can be the difference between recovering most of the funds versus very little,” Det. Chief Supt Lordan said.

“The consequences of falling for a scam such as this can be catastrophic and may even result in the closure of businesses and redundancies.

“Don’t give these criminals the opportunity.”

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