In an alert that was sent to the media on November 11th, BBB reported that in 2009 there has been a significant increase in frauds that involve the exploitation of valid online banking credentials belonging to small and medium businesses throughout the US. Since the release of this alert, an Omaha company has contacted BBB to report that it was a victim of this scam.
BBB President Jim Hegarty explained, “The thieves hacked into his company’s financial data by installing malware, which is short for malicious software that is designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner's informed consent. This enabled them to steal the business’ corporate bank account login information. According to the victim, the perpetrator then pretended they were authorized users and siphoned off $50,000 to an account In Russia.”
These kinds of transfers usually occur as “Automated Check Handling” or “Automated Clearinghouse” (ACH) transactions to the company’s bank account. The victim told BBB that he was ultimately saved by his bank. On the day after the $50,000 was taken, the scammers tried to authorize another $50,000 transfer in $10,000 increments. The victim’s bank became suspicious and called to see if this transfer was authorized by him. Of course, the business owner had not authorized this transfer of funds and was completely unaware of the first transfer. Luckily, the money was still sitting in the Russian account and the victim’s bank was able to reverse the transfer.
“This kind of scam is perpetrated by ‘Cyber crooks’ who are recruiting people as money mules. These individuals have been tricked into believing that they are working as local agents for international companies. Their job description involves helping these fictitious companies transfer money from their alleged business partners (the victims) to their overseas customers (the criminals). This is a complex scheme, which is more widespread than previously believed,” said Hegarty.
BBB reminds you that while the Internet can be a safe and convenient place to do business, scammers are out there in "cyber world" targeting unsuspecting businesses and consumers. A website called www.LooksTooGoodToBeTrue.com was developed to arm you with information so you don't fall victim to these Internet scam artists. This website was developed and is maintained by a joint federal law enforcement and industry task force.
If you aren't sure if you have been or are about to become a victim of a scam, go to this link to take a risk assessment test to see if you are a potential victim - http://www.lookstoogoodtobetrue.com/tests.aspx. Education, good judgment, and a healthy dose of skepticism are the best defenses against becoming a victim.