The $2.6m Email Scam That Shook Australian Businesses

Handcuffed

As if this 2020 had not had enough action, on April 2, a series of raids took place in two private properties in Zetland and Roseberry, New South Wales. The raids were successful helping to catch a 29-year-old and a 30-year-old who had earned over $1.6m from illegal scams. 

The illegal operation ran successfully by the 29-year-old suspect from mid-2018 to early 2020 before their arrest. The other individual was arrested for handling crime proceeds, drug charges and supporting the syndicate.

The syndicate gained illegal profits from businesses of different industries from finance to property development. The scammers would make their earnings by using a BEC (business email compromise) scheme where they used false invoices to claim illegitimate payments. 

During the raid, police officers were able to confiscate numerous devices such as computers, phones, drugs and over $17,000 USD in cash from both properties. 

However, these are not the first arrests that the NSW police department has made in connection with this syndicate. In 2019, three other individuals were charged in connection with the same syndicate. 

The scams this syndicate committed from mid-2018 to earlier this year has cost an estimated $60m to Australian businesses, who were tricked into effectuating payments to the syndicate through phony emails.

BEC scams have become more popular over time, as hackers find it easy to trace a person’s email and see what kind of payments they make regularly. This facilitates their work by sending a similar email to their victim. The victim normally makes the payment without suspicion, only to realise that the email was not legitimate. 

As a result of the investigation, the New South Wales police department discovered that the criminal network had their eye on the ball to attack many more Australian businesses through BEC scams in different regions. The series of emails they used to attack were found to be sophisticated by authorities.

Although it may seem unlikely that you, or someone you know could be affected by cyber criminals, think again. Entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized businesses are those who are more likely to be affected by cyber threats. It is far too easy for small businesses to forget their duty of being diligent with their cybersecurity strategy to protect themselves and their data against an invisible enemy. 

While thinking about implementing security measures into your everyday life and protecting all of your data, you should take a look at what CyberNinjas has to offer to entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized businesses to mitigate the possibility of you falling victim to cyber crime. 

The internet is a wild place, so be vigilant. To avoid getting scammed by a BEC scheme, always verify the source of all invoices you receive and take the precaution of confirming if the email address you received the invoice from is indeed a registered address for that business or make a quick call to find out. 

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