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Cops probe new scam - Scammers targeting businessmen and attorneys

Published:Friday | April 28, 2017 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson

Top-level business executives and attorneys are among the main targets of two new scams that seem to be taking root in Jamaica.

The police have already confirmed that at least one case of a scheme dubbed the 'business email scam', while Sunday Gleaner sources say that an 'attorney or lawyer email scam' is also taking place but that those who have been scammed are yet to report this to the cops.

Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Unit (C-TOC) Clifford Chambers says that the business email scam has seen millions of dollars being bilked from accounting departments by crooks posing as executives of top-tier companies.

"It is a scam where persons would find a way to compromise a person's email and then put out things, giving the appearance that it is coming from the manager. They will make demands from which they would thereafter benefit," Chambers told The Sunday Gleaner, following a media briefing at his downtown Kingston office last Thursday.

Chambers said that at least one local business executive has been the victim of this scam.




"I don't want to call any names, (but) we have a situation where the managing director's email was hacked and they got her password. They got information from the treasury, and they called and made a request, for example, a certain amount of funds to be remitted or transferred to an existing (fictitious) account," said Chambers.

"Given the respect and rank with which the executive was held, they didn't call to verify or authenticate the information provided to transfer or remit x amount to such account," added Chambers.

He said that the scam was discovered only after a second transfer request had been made.

"We were able to work with the organisation to stop the other money from going to its destined location, but we have to be working with international stakeholders to recover the other amount that was sent," said Chambers as he noted that the probe, which started in late December, is still ongoing.

"It is something that we are aware of, and business entities that require telephone calls or calls made from one section to another to generate funds to third parties need to verify and authenticate same," added Chambers.

He told our news team that the scam is not believed to be widespread because the bandits target high-end companies.

In the meantime, retired Federal Bureau of Investigations specialist Wilfred Rattigan told our news team that the business email scam is one of the many rackets being conceived daily by Internet-savvy scammers, many of whom have been deported to the island.

According to Rattigan, if Jamaica is to become the commercial hub that it is being touted to become, more resources must be given to detecting online scams.

Rattigan said that he had heard of the attorney or lawyer email scam, which is not being reported by those scammed.

"This is where they call the attorney and say, 'hey! I was involved in a commercial transaction with this company. They are not paying and I am going to need you to represent me'," said Rattigan.

Days later, the criminals would call the attorney again, explaining that the indebted company had contacted them and that the company had agreed to pay the sum of money by cheque through the attorney.

The attorney is then sent a fraudulent cheque by the hoodlums, who ask him to send a portion of the money to them while retaining a portion for the service that the attorney has provided.

The unsuspecting attorney then makes the payment from his own funds, only to later discover that the cheque he had been sent was not honoured by the bank.

But the C-TOC head told our news team that while he could see the feasibility of the attorney scam, he had no evidence to suggest that it was being done in Jamaica.