Client Alert: Wire Instruction Fraud
October was Cybersecurity preparedness month. Is your company prepared?
When you are thinking about your company’s cyber-hygiene, it is helpful to be aware of the current trends of cyber criminals. One emerging cyber scheme involves the manipulation of wire transfer information, such that funds sent via wire transfer for work performed or a closing are actually sent to the bank account of a malicious actor. For example, cyber criminals are able to infiltrate email communications and intercept incoming or outgoing communications between your company and other parties. This can occur due to malicious software being installed through a seemingly harmless link in an email, or through a company email account when a password is compromised.
This scheme has recently targeted title closing companies, law firms, small banks, the construction industry, and other professionals that transmit and receive payments via wire transfer. Often the victims do not realize that the wire instructions that were used were fraudulent and manipulated until it is too late. This has resulted in millions of dollars that have been stolen by cyber criminals.
Being mindful of this scheme can help your company avoid becoming a victim through a few easy steps. Require your accounting department or other personnel responsible for initiating wire transfers to call and confirm the payment instructions and bank account information prior to initiating a payment. Doublecheck wiring instructions and bank account information to account information from prior successful transactions. Wire instructions, even those sent by a legitimate e-mail address, should always be verified. Be wary of a change in the manner of payment requested if your company has previously made payments via check or other payment method, a sudden request for a wire transfer should be a red flag. Also be aware of requests for immediate payment or payment off-schedule due to extraordinary circumstances. Finally, implement policies such as requiring two-factor authentication for all financial transactions and regularly change passwords.
If your company becomes the victim of wire transfer fraud it is important to speak with legal counsel immediately to help navigate various steps in an effort to preserve the forensic information, minimize exposure, evaluate insurance coverage for the loss, and coordinate communication with various outside entities and agencies including law enforcement.
Hand Arendall’s cyber security practice group is positioned to help you as breach counsel in the immediate aftermath of a breach. If you have questions about a cyber breach, please contact Christopher S. Williams at 251-694-6233 or another member of Hand Arendall’s Cybersecurity Practice Group.