Trowbridge-based Priority IT is warning Wiltshire businesses to guard against sophisticated new email scams after its clients were targeted by cyber criminals.
The company, which provides specialist IT support to local companies, says online fraudsters recently duped two of its business customers out of tens of thousands of pounds.
The scams involve criminals faking email messages from company bosses and suppliers to trick finance staff into transferring funds to their accounts.
Kieran Thomas, managing director Priority IT, said: “Fraudsters recently sent an email to the financial controller of one of our client businesses that looked like it had come from the managing director, asking him to transfer money urgently to an overseas bank account.
“The criminals had set up a domain name that was almost identical to the MD’s email address, apart from one character that was different.
“Another client received an email purporting to be from a supplier in the Far East, notifying them that their shipment was ready for despatch and asking for payment. Again, the bogus email address was only slightly different from the real one.
“The fact that two of our clients have been targeted in this way means there could be many more local businesses at risk from the scam.”
Priority IT is urging Wiltshire businesses to take action to protect themselves from such sophisticated ‘whaling’ attacks.
“Instruct your staff to confirm any email payment requests verbally with you first, or include a secret word or phrase in your emails to validate any payment requests,” added Mr Thomas.
“While the email addresses were incorrect in both the cases we have seen, the names of the managing director and supplier appeared correctly as the display names. So also check the ‘To’ email address and don’t rely on just the name displayed when judging the authenticity of emails.
“By teaching your staff to be vigilant you can keep one step ahead of the criminals.”
Businesses that are unsure about the authenticity of a particular email can forward it to Priority IT at firstname.lastname@example.org and they will check it.
Pictured above: Kieran Thomas, managing director Priority IT