MacEwan de­liv­ers re­port on $11.8M scam

Edmonton Journal - - CITY + REGION - JURIS GRANEY jgraney@postmedia.com twit­ter.com/ju­ris­graney

A re­port into just how MacEwan Univer­sity was conned into trans­fer­ring $11.8 mil­lion into scam­mers’ bank ac­counts has been de­liv­ered to the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, the univer­sity said Fri­day.

The Depart­ment of Ad­vanced Ed­u­ca­tion de­manded a full re­port from univer­sity ad­min­is­tra­tors by Sept. 15 into the events sur­round­ing one of the largest pub­licly dis­closed email phish­ing scams.

The fraud was dis­cov­ered Aug. 23 when Edmonton-based con­struc­tion com­pany Clark Builders, one of the univer­sity’s ma­jor ven­dors, con­tacted staff af­ter three pay­ments failed to ar­rive in Au­gust.

An in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion found staff in the ac­counts payable depart­ment had been tricked via email into chang­ing the com­pany’s bank­ing de­tails by fraud­sters.

Staff made three pay­ments to the bo­gus ac­count over a nine-day pe­riod end­ing Aug. 19. The univer­sity paid out $1.9 mil­lion, $22,000 and fi­nally $9.9 mil­lion.

Univer­sity spokesman David Be­harry said board of gover­nors chair­woman Ione Chall­born signed off on the re­port Thurs­day and that it has been submitted to the prov­ince.

“The in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the in­ci­dent con­tin­ues through our in­ter­nal au­dit func­tion with a fo­cus on fi­nan­cial con­trols,” Be­harry said. “We con­tinue to fo­cus on re­cov­ery ef­forts to re­trieve the funds, but we know that will take time.”

The mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar theft from MacEwan al­most sin­gle­hand­edly equals the to­tal loss of $12.8 mil­lion re­ported by Cana­dian busi­nesses in all of 2016 by fraud­sters us­ing an on­line scam called busi­ness email com­pro­mise.

Cana­dian en­ti­ties have been fleeced an es­ti­mated $30 mil­lion this year alone.

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