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A recent example of wire transfer fraud, (Thu, Jan 7th)

2016-01-06 23:20


Do you know about any attempts of wire transfer fraud in your organization? They often start with phishing emails. These emails are used to trick an employee into wiring money to bank accounts established by the criminal. Its an old scam, but 2015 apparently saw a resurgence in wire transfer fraud [1]. Last August, we saw reports that thieves stole $46.7 million from Ubiquity using this method [2]. Since then, at least one organization has shared its experience as the target of an (unsuccessful) attempt at wire transfer fraud [3].

During the first full week of 2016, I ran across such an attempt and thought Id share.

Chain of events

In most cases Ive seen, the general sequence of events runs as follows:

  • Criminal sends an email with a spoofed sending address to one or more targeted recipients.
  • A recipient replies to the Reply-To: address in the email headers.
  • Criminal continues the conversation and asks for a wire transfer.

The actor may spoof an executive from your organization, a business partner, or a customer. If the actor is successful, someone in your organization will do the wire transfer It may take a while before people know theyve been tricked. In Ubiquitys case, the criminals managed to steal millions of dollars before the company realized it [2].

Ubiquity is not unique in this regard. According to the FBI, between October 2013 and August 2015, thieves stole nearly $750 million from more than 7,000 companies in the US using such scams [4].

How does a criminal decide who to target in your organization? If your company has a website with biographies of your leadership, its fairly easy to figure out who might be able to authorize a wire transfer.

Example from Monday 2016-01-04

In this example, 17 emails were sent in two waves. The first wave went to the first two individuals, and the second wave happened almost 6 hours later and went to the last two individuals. The criminal didnt have the email addresses of the actual recipients, so multiple messages were sent using different recipient emails. We saw [firstname.lastname]@[company].com, [first initial + lastname]@[company].com, and variations on the domain, like [company].com.de or [company].com.br for those recipients not located in the United States.">Date: Mon, 4 Jan 2016 22:18:08 GMT
From: [spoofed executive">Do you have a moment?">Sent from my iPhone

Tracing the source of these emails

Reviewing the email headers, it appears this email came from a virtual private server (VPS) on an IP administered by myhosting.com (a hosting provider). From what I understand, almost everything in the email headers can be spoofed. The only certain information is the IP address listed in the Received" />
Shown above:">Final words

This diary shows an example of attempted wire transfer fraud seen during the first week of 2016. It isnt the most sophisticated attempt Icombat these types of scams, the best defense is user education. Make sure people with authority for wire transfers know to what expect.

Do you have a wire fraud transfer story? Feel free to share in the comments!

Brad Duncan
Security Researcher at http://www.rackspace.comRackspace
Blog: www.malware-traffic-analysis.net - Twitter: @malware_traffic


[1] https://www.dlapiper.com/en/us/insights/publications/2015/08/wire-transfer-phishing-an-old-scam-returns/
[2] http://krebsonsecurity.com/2015/08/tech-firm-ubiquiti-suffers-46m-cyberheist/
[3] http://fortune.com/2015/10/13/ceo-wire-transfer-scam/
[4] http://krebsonsecurity.com/2015/08/fbi-1-2b-lost-to-business-email-scams/

(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. https://isc.sans.edu Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Source: ssr;pma&18502=diyrots?lmth.yraid/ude.snas.csi

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