How Cyber Criminals Defraud Fijians
Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit Director tells of four cases this year
The Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit has issued an alert after four cases of cyber fraud were noted this year. Speaking to the Fiji Sun at the 20th Attorney-General’s Conference currently underway at the at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa in Natadola, Director of the Unit Razim Buksh explained how international fraudsters managed to dupe Fijians.
He explained that the first way had been through email compromise.
“This involves the cyber attacker often utilising social media platform and online social engineering techniques to trick internet users to unknowingly install malware such as keylogger, computer virus, worm, Trojan Horse and Spyware onto their computers, workstations or wireless devices.”
This is normally done through asking the victim to click on a link sent by the cybecriminal through which the malware is installed. “This is an effort to compromise and steal personal sensitive information such as email and other online account login credentials. Once the cyber attacker gets access to the account, they can then monitor emails, intercepting those that contain an invoice or a payment instruction to the commercial bank.
“Therefore, the cyber attacker then changes the payment instructions on a chosen invoice or intended transaction and allows it to be processed usually with the funds going straight into a bank account of a cybercriminal syndicate instead of the intended and rightful beneficiary.”
The second method which was used this year to defraud four locals is email spoofing.
“Email spoofing is the creation of email messages with a fake or look-alike email sender address to mislead the recipient about the origin of the message. Cases reported to the Fiji FIU show that look-alike email addresses were used between local business entities and their overseas suppliers regarding orders for import of goods. Cases also involve non-trade related personal foreign remittance transactions.” Recent case examples reported to the Fiji FIU in 2018 on email compromise and email spoofing cases include:
In March 2018, an email account of a local bank customer was compromised and a fraudulent payment instruction was sent to the local bank. Approximately FJ$575,000 was transferred to a foreign bank account belonging to a cybercriminal syndicate. In September 2018, in a case involving cyber money laundering, FJ$556,000 was fraudulently transferred from a local business bank account to an offshore “incorrect” bank account number. In this case the foreign supplier’s business email was compromised.
In October 2018, proceeds of approximately FJ$27,000 from sale of investment shares of a local investor who is residing abroad, was remitted to a cybercriminal’s bank account in another country as a result of email compromise of the investor. In October 2018, an estate property settlement proceeds totaling approximately FJ$845,000 was remitted to the foreign bank account of a cybercriminal who pretended to be the beneficiary of the estate. It appears that email accounts of the beneficiary and local party were compromised.
Since 2014, 39 businesses and individuals have lost funds totalling $5million in foreign remittance transactions to cybercriminals through email compromise scams. Only $169,000 was recovered. Mr Buksh said: “Commercial banks and remittance service providers are required to conduct enhanced due diligence for suspicious payment instructions. “Business customers engaged in overseas trade should also be made aware of alternative and safer modes of instructing commercial banks for international trade payments.” ALSO READ More reports >P4, 6 Editorial >P10
Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa with Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit Director Razim Buksh at the at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa at Natadola on December 7, 2018.