MacEwan delivers report on $11.8M scam
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.