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Financial Institution And Members Of The Public Rise In Email Compromise And Email Spoofing Cases In Fiji

The Fiji FIU would like to advise commercial banks, financial in­stitutions, businesses and members of the public to ex­ercise caution when handling email payment instructions for import trade transactions and
16 Dec 2018 14:00
Financial Institution And Members Of The Public Rise In Email Compromise And Email Spoofing Cases In Fiji

The Fiji FIU would like to advise commercial banks, financial in­stitutions, businesses and members of the public to ex­ercise caution when handling email payment instructions for import trade transactions and large value personal out­bound foreign remittance transactions.

The Fiji FIU has noticed a continuous rise in cases of individuals and businesses falling victim to email com­promise and spoofing scams.

Since 2014, 39 businesses and individuals have lost funds totaling $5million in foreign remittance transactions to cybercriminals through email compromise scams.

Only $169,000 was recovered.

Email compromise involves the cyber attacker often uti­lising social media platform and online social engineering techniques to trick internet users to unknowingly install malware such as keylogger, computer virus, worm, Tro­jan Horse and Spyware onto their computers, workstations or wireless devices.

Once the cyber attacker gets access to the account, they can then monitor emails, inter­cepting those that contain an invoice or a payment instruc­tion to the commercial bank. Therefore, the cyber attacker then changes the payment instructions on a chosen in­voice or intended transaction and allows it to be processed usually with the funds going straight into a bank account of a cybercriminal syndicate instead of the intended and rightful beneficiary.

Email spoofing is the crea­tion of email messages with a fake or look-alike email sender address to mislead the recipient about the origin of the message.

Cases reported to the Fiji FIU show that look-alike email ad­dresses were used between lo­cal business entities and their overseas suppliers regarding orders for import of goods. Cases also involve non-trade related personal foreign re­mittance transactions.

Recent Cases

Recent case examples report­ed to the Fiji FIU in 2018 on email compromise and email spoofing cases include:

In March 2018, an email account of a local bank cus­tomer was compromised and a fraudulent payment instruc­tion was sent to the local bank.

Approximately, FJ$575,000 was transferred to a foreign bank account belonging to a cybercriminal syndicate.

In September 2018, in a case involving cyber money laun­dering, FJ$556,000 was fraud­ulently transferred from a lo­cal business bank account to an offshore “incorrect” bank account number.

In October 2018, proceeds of approximately FJ$27,000 from sale of investment shares of a local investor who is resid­ing abroad, was remitted to a cybercriminal’s bank account in another country as a result of email compromise of the investor.

In October 2018, an estate property settlement pro­ceeds totaling approximately FJ$845,000 was remitted to the foreign bank account of a cybercriminal who pretended to be the beneficiary of the estate.

It appears that email ac­counts of the beneficiary and local party were compro­mised. You may also refer to Fiji FIU’s Press Release No. 9/2014 that was issued on 17 April 2014 and FIU Alert No­tice #: 6/2014 that was issued to commercial banks on 11 August 2014 on “Email Spoof­ing”.

Any suspicious overseas trade transaction or large per­sonal remittance that could be linked to email compromise and spoofing scams should be immediately reported as a suspicious transaction report to the Fiji FIU.

Commercial banks and re­mittance service providers are required to conduct en­hanced due diligence for sus­picious payment instructions.

Business customers engaged in overseas trade should also be made aware of alternative and safer modes of instruct­ing commercial banks for in­ternational trade payments.

This alert notice is intended for wider circulation to mem­bers of the public and busi­ness community as well as to industry associations, clients and customers of financial institutions.

maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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