Fraudsters compromised an organisations email account to gain access to client funds.
Just before Christmas 2016, Shane and Jean were completing the sale of their first home. Between wedding gifts and savings they had saved a substantial deposit. Shane received an email from their solicitor asking him to transfer the balance of the deposit for their new home to a holding account in order to secure, and complete, the transfer of their property. Shane duly did so that day.
A couple of days later Shane’s solicitor called to notify Shane of a breach in the company’s system. The solicitor’s email account had been hacked and compromised, and the solicitor advised that if Shane received any emails from the solicitor’s account to please ignore it. Unfortunately it was too late for Shane. The money was transferred.
Shane immediately rang his Bank as his life savings and future home were at risk. While the bank was extremely helpful, there was nothing they could do as Shane had authorised the transaction and they confirmed the transfer had reached another bank account.
However, Shane was in luck as the bank where the funds had been received noticed the large transfer which raised alarm bells. This account was a red flag as it had never received large sums like this before from another bank in such a way. Given this irregularity, they reported it to their fraud department, leading them to freeze half the funds.
This meant they could return the remaining funds to Shane. Both Shane and the two banks reported the details to the Gardaí.
In the excitement of closing the sale Shane never thought to check the email by calling his solicitor’s office, confirming the request and the bank account details. While in this case Shane and Jean were fortunate to receive even half of the money back, they still lost 50% of their savings for their house deposit.
Cyber criminals continue to use sophisticated tactics and are very resourceful. Don’t be embarrassed to report a scam; by doing so you will make it more difficult for these criminals to target someone else.
It’s your money, make sure you have control. Be FraudSMART – be informed, alert and secure.
- Always verify payment details with your solicitor, or another supplier, verbally either face to face or via a call their office.
- Don’t ever send your personal banking details via email.