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by December 19, 2016 General

DUBLIN, Ireland – Following an attempted cyber ‘CEO fraud’ attack aimed at stealing 4.3 million euros from Meath County Council, an international investigation has been launched.

On October 28, the local authority was said to be targeted in a “sophisticated” online scam.

According to reports, the hacker impersonated the CEO of the county council, Jackie Maguire to carry out the fraud. 

Adding that cyber criminals contacted a junior staff member, pretending to be the real boss, and requested the transfer of a whopping 4.3 million euros to an account in Hong Kong.

However, the attempted fraud was detected before the transaction could be completed and the money was secured. 

The so-called ‘CEO fraud’ is the latest cyber threat that businesses are increasingly facing.

Authorities said that usually, cyber criminals first access a company’s financial communication, such as related emails, and then they try to emulate the method of communication of CEOs with relation to financial issues. 

After that, they hijack the CEO’s email account, or create an identical one. Following this, a junior staff member is sent a fake email from that account, asking to transfer money from one account to another.

Such scams, they said, are carried out with much planning, and have so far taken place in over 80 countries worldwide.

Meath County Council said in a statement that its bank was alerted upon the request of such a large transfer and the matter was reported to the gardai. They then, helped crack the issue along with the Financial Intelligence Unit and the Interpol.

It added, “The funds have been secured and the matter is now the subject of criminal investigations, and legal proceedings, in Ireland and abroad. In light of the ongoing investigations, the Council has been advised to make no further comment on the matter at this time.”

Thomas Byrne, from the opposition party, Fianna Fail, expressed his shock at the incident and said that it was a “disgraceful act.”

He said, “I hope the perpetrators are identified and brought before the courts to account for their actions. I will be seeking assurances that cyber security procedures within Meath County Council are at their highest possible level. I will also be looking for assurances that vital public services are not at risk, either temporarily or permanently, as a result of this attempted theft. It is also important that other local authorities across the country examine their own internal cyber security procedures to ensure they do not fall victim to a similar attack. It’s important that any potential security issues are identified. We must be vigilant.”