RCMP are warning local businesses after the “CEO scam” took place at a government agency in North Vancouver.
The incident happened last month when a clerical employee was given e-mail instruction from her “supervisor” to go out and purchase $500 in iTunes gift cards.
In the email, the “supervisor” claimed he was in a lengthy meeting, was too busy to purchase them himself, and asked her to forward the card details back to him.
After acquiring the cards and sending the information, she received a second request for an additional $500 in gift cards. It was only then that she became suspicious of the event.
Richard De Jong, a spokesperson with the North Vancouver RCMP, explains that fraudsters will “gain access to the e-mail account of an executive or supervisor and target employees who have the authority to access and move money.”
Often times the emails will request “urgent” wire transfers or gift card purchases for either “confidential transactions” or to help “secure an important contract.”
To make matters more difficult, scammers will send the emails when supervisors or higher-ups are travelling and difficult to contact.
RCMP warn for employees and local businesses to:
- Ensure that their computer systems are secure, keep antivirus software up to date, and encourage all employees to use strong passwords to protect their accounts
- Take a careful look at the sender’s email address
- Double-check with executives when they send wire-transfer requests by e-mail, even when they look legitimate
“Losses to this type of scam can range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars. The fake ‘CEO Scam’ is a growing threat to businesses and organizations of all sizes.”