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Plot by hackers to cheat Singapore firm foiled by bank

by August 29, 2017 General

A man and his daughter passes United Overseas Bank (UOB) signage at a mall in Singapore May 11, 2016. — Reuters picA man and his daughter passes United Overseas Bank (UOB) signage at a mall in Singapore May 11, 2016. — Reuters picSINGAPORE, Aug 29 — But for the intervention of United Overseas Bank (UOB), Muralidaran Naidu’s company would have been fleeced of US$75,000 (RM320,062) by hackers last year.

The scammers had infiltrated his company’s email server sometime in November 2015 and “intercepted” emails. Posing as the company’s client, a Myanmar firm, they began communicating with Muralidaran, his company’s chairman and the finance team.

Muralidaran, who is the business development director, declined to reveal the name of his company and the nature of its business.

He and his colleagues did not realise the scammers had added an extra letter to their actual customer’s email address.

His chairman approved a US$75,000 purchase order issued by the hackers, and the money was transferred to Hong Kong via UOB between January and February last year.

Subsequent communication with the actual customer revealed that no such order had been made. By the time he realised his company had been scammed, the money had been transferred for a week.

Thankfully, UOB’s internal policies did not allow the money to be moved to the scammers’ account, as the address provided was “ambiguous” and did not even exist.

It took another three weeks for the US$75,000 to be returned to Muralidaran’s company. Speaking to reporters, he said it was the first such an incident in the company’s 31-year history.

The Myanmar customer, however, had previously lost some S$300,000 to hackers, and had cautioned Muralidaran’s company to be on guard.

“It just took (an extra letter). Due diligence on our part (had) failed,” he said.

Email impersonation scams, which affect companies that correspond with other companies via email to transact and transfer funds, were flagged by the police yesterday in its release of mid-year crime statistics.

There were 160 such cases in the first half of this year, an increase of about 29 per cent from the same period last year.

The total amount that was swindled also grew by 25.9 per cent, from S$17.4 million in the first half of last year to S$21.9 million this year. — TODAY