Police recover funds following business email scam

Police have recovered more than $73,000 after a Tasmanian business was the victim of an email compromise scam.

The business reported the matter to police in November, after invoice details in an email sent to a customer were intercepted and changed, resulting in a $73,371 payment being made to an incorrect account.

Detective Sergeant Paul Turner from Tasmania Police’s Serious Financial Crime team said scams like these, known as business email compromise (BEC), were an increasing and persistent threat worldwide.

“Across Australia it seems like cyber criminals engaged in this sort of activity are particularly targeting the building and construction industry,” he said.

“Luckily, this business was able to quickly identify the illegal activity, and we worked with their financial institution and our Australian Federal Police counterparts to freeze the payment and recover the funds.”

“At this stage we believe the funds were transferred to what we refer to as a “mule” account.”

“Often the owners of these mule accounts are completely unaware of their involvement in the criminal activity and are also victims of a scam.”

“This can involve them being instructed to receive the money and transfer the amount overseas under false pretences, such as helping a family member of someone they’ve met online.”

“Tasmanian businesses can help protect themselves from being victims of BEC by using protected invoicing software, or other methods rather than email.”

Detective Inspector Craig Joel, Officer in Charge of the Cyber and Child Exploitation Crime Division, said cybercrime is an increasing and evolving threat.

“Tasmania Police works closely with other jurisdictions and international policing agencies to investigate and combat the threat of cybercrime,” he said.

“Unfortunately, at some stage most of us will experience a cyber threat, whether it’s through an email, text or phone call.”

“We all need to be vigilant, and report instances of cybercrime at cyber.gov.au.”

Other illegal and harmful content found online in Australia should be reported to the eSafety Commissioner at https://www.esafety.gov.au/