Fraudsters have made off with over $17m in what appears to be a targeted email attack, after managing to persuade a senior executive at commodities trader Scoular to wire the funds to a Chinese bank.
An FBI statement filed last month in the US District Court in Omaha claims that Scoular corporate controller Keith McMurtry was targeted by emails faked to appear to come from CEO Chuck Elsea, according to Omaha.com.
The fraudsters seemed to have gone to great lengths to ensure the scam worked, using a made-up M&A deal as cover, and to ensure McMurtry didn’t tell anyone what he was doing.
“I need you to take care of this,” read an email spoofed to come from Elsea.
“For the last months we have been working, in coordination and under the supervision of the SEC, on acquiring a Chinese company... This is very sensitive, so please only communicate with me through this email, in order for us not to infringe SEC regulations.”
McMurtry is also said to have received an email spoofed to look like it came from an employee at Scoular’s accounting firm, telling him where to send the money – the legitimate Shanghai Pudong Development Bank.
The scammers also made sure that someone was primed and ready to pick up the phone and answer to the name of the phantom accountant when McMurtry called the number given in the email.
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