BEC scammers used forged documents to steal over $2.3 million from the town of Peterborough, New Hampshire, US. The fraudulent transfers were made using forged documents sent to the town’s Finance Department staff in multiple email exchanges.
Business email compromise (BEC) scammers use various tactics to steal or impersonate their victims’ email accounts. These criminals then try to redirect their victims’ future or pending payments to their own bank accounts.
The town’s school district found out about the scam on July 26 when the ConVal School District asked them why they didn’t receive a $1.2 million monthly transfer.
On August 18, two other bank transfers were diverted to accounts of individuals who were allegedly involved in the scheme.
The forged emails that were used to steal public funds were sent from overseas, officials said. The attackers singled out the most valuable transactions.
“Investigations into these forged email exchanges showed that they originated overseas. These criminals were very sophisticated and took advantage of the transparent nature of public sector work to identify the most valuable transactions and focus their actions on diverting those transfers,” Select Board Chair Tyler Ward and Town Administrator Nicole MacStay said in a press release published on Monday.
The Finance Department’s staff members targeted in the fraudulent scheme are currently on leave, while the investigation is carried out. It is believed that they were not involved in the attack.
“We are now waiting to hear from our coverage provider if these losses will be covered, whether in whole or in part; town administration is exploring all options available and has reached out to our legislative delegation and the Governor’s office for support,” the town staff added. “We do not believe that the funds can be recovered by reversing the transactions, and we do not yet know if these losses will be covered by insurance.”