Scam strikes area organization
By Darren Lum
Published Nov. 1, 2016
A $10,000 loss to a local organization is providing the public a reminder about an ongoing online scam.
The OPP reported an unnamed organization in Haliburton County received an invoice in their email requesting the payment of more than $45,000 US for equipment purchased. When the organization questioned its validity they sent an email to its purchaser. Subsequently, they received an email confirmation. The organization settled to pay $10,000 US, a portion of the requested balance. After the transaction, the organization discovered the fraud. It was later discovered that the email accounts were hacked by scammers.
This incident of “spearfishing” – when an email appears to come from someone you know and trust – comes during the Cyber Awareness Month of October and it was the first time this organization was targeted, but not the first time other organizations or residents of Haliburton County were targets, said OPP Const. Timothy Negus. Emails are full of information that can be used to the advantage of scammers.
He said this isn’t the first organization to be victimized.
“In all fairness this isn’t the first organization that’s just gone ahead and done something then realized after they’ve done it and go, ‘oh, I shouldn’t have done that,’” he said.
He adds it’s important for those targeted to come forward and report it.
“Even if you don’t suffer a loss,” he said. “A lot of people call and leave a message and that’s the end of it. It’s been through the people that have gone online, reported it directly to an officer. Because when I get a report I will ask the person: Did you happen to contact the anti-fraud centre? If they say no I ask them to do it or I will forward that occurrence to the anti-fraud centre and it’s only through continued reporting that it gets investigated.”
Without the reports, law enforcement agencies will not spend as much time on it.
Negus said public awareness through the news media is key to prohibiting fraud. He speaks on the local radio station once a week about fraud.
Negus said of those targeted, far less than half are actually victims.
This past year there were 70 incidents of fraud reported in Haliburton County where a loss was incurred and a report made. The breakdown of the types of scams includes 12 credit card, nine Canadian Revenue Agency, four Microsoft scams, four ransom software, three Canada Post parcel scam, and sporadic spyware and cellular communication company scams. If no loss was reported they were referred to the anti-fraud centre.
He believes checks and balances are imperative to avoid becoming a victim of scams.
Negus recommends making note of recording the companies businesses work with; when paying invoices confirm the payee; if there is any doubt that businesses should contact the person responsible for purchasing or authorizing to confirm details and related costs; then have another person review financial expenditures before any payments are made; implement a pre-approval process for major purchases and don’t underestimate the importance of internal communication. He notes that reputable companies have 30, 60 and 90 day invoice periods.
In his release, he said one method to determine if a file is “dangerous” is to avoid to opening files with the extension .msi, .bat, .com, .cmd, .hta, .scr, .pif, .reg, .js, .vbs, .wsf, .cpl and.jar. Generally, he said, files with commonly used extensions such as for images .jpg and .png, and for document file extensions of .pdf, .docx, .xlsx, and .pptx can be trusted.
Contact your local police service, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, report it to the OPP online at http://www.opp.ca/index.php?id=132 or through Crime Stoppers at 1-800- 222-8477.