Thursday 9 July, 2020

Scammers target business emails, make fraudulent transactions

Create strong passwords for your email account and update your password regularly. 

This is the advice of Ag Asst Superintendent of the Police Cyber crime Unit Amos Sylvester as he warned that hackers and scammers are gaining access to business emails and conducting fraudulent transactions. 

Sylvester was speaking at a seminar hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce on Thursday morning entitled "Skimmers, Scammers and Scanners".

Sylvester revealed that in 2018, the emails of eight local businesses were compromised and they were scammed out of a total of TT$4.4 million. 

Another company was scammed out of US$12 million but was able to recover 95 per cent of the funds after an investigation that spanned three countries.

Sylvester said people need to have stronger passwords for their accounts and not ones that can be easily guessed.

He also called for the introduction of Cyber-crime legislation as he said current laws are too lenient. 

RBC Manager Investigations Department Antonio Ventour said scammers are becoming smarter.

He told a story about someone was was almost scammed of US$180,000 recently.

"I don't know any company in the world that can take a hit like that, especially in Trinidad and Tobago," he said.

"This is not fiction. This is what we see on a daily basis."

However Ventour said there are many red flags to look out for to avoid becoming a victim. 

"When you looked at the transaction, there were so many things that should have indicated to that person that something is wrong," he said.

"This thing is not rocket science."

He said people must closely scrutinize the email addresses messages are being sent from as scammers will use similar email addresses with just a minor change that might go unnoticed. 

Linda Hollingsworth, Senior Accounts Executive at Risk Management Service Ltd, added that there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds and hackers tend to target small businesses. 

"So it is not to say that because you are a small business you are not exposed. You are exposed and you must take basic measures to protect yourself. 

She said businesses can access insurance to guard against losses from these kinds of attacks. 

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