Email Fraud


Criminals gained unauthorized access to an organization’s email account, resulting in the compromise of client funds.

Shortly before Christmas in 2016, Shane and Jean were in the process of selling their first home. With a substantial deposit accumulated from wedding gifts and savings, they were completing the sale. Shane received an email from their solicitor, instructing him to transfer the balance of the deposit for their new home to a holding account to secure and finalize the property transfer. Shane promptly executed the transfer on the same day.

A few days later, Shane’s solicitor informed him of a security breach in the company’s system. The solicitor’s email account had been hacked, leading to compromise, and Shane was advised to disregard any emails from that account. Unfortunately, Shane had already transferred the money by then.

Realizing the severity of the situation, Shane contacted his bank to protect his life savings and the future home. Although the bank offered assistance, they couldn’t reverse the transaction as Shane had authorized it, and the funds had reached another bank account.

Fortunately, the bank receiving the funds flagged the irregularity, noting that it had never received such large sums from another bank in this manner. The bank reported the incident to their fraud department, resulting in the freezing of half the funds. This allowed the return of the remaining funds to Shane. Both Shane and the banks reported the details to the Gardaí.

In the midst of finalizing the home sale, Shane neglected to verify the solicitor’s email by contacting the office, confirming the request, and validating the bank account details. Despite the partial recovery, Shane and Jean suffered a 50% loss of their savings earmarked for the house deposit.

Cybercriminals employ sophisticated tactics and remain highly resourceful. Reporting scams is essential to impede these criminals and protect others from falling victim to similar schemes.

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