Scammers hack invoices

Police are urging King Country people to check bank details provided on invoices they receive by email after an Ōtorohanga business lost $11,000 to a scam.

Hackers gained access to the business’s computer systems and tampered with the invoices being emailed out, substituting their own bank details for genuine ones.

Sergeant Jimmie Walker of the Ōtorohanga Police

The customer paid the account because the work charged for was genuine, but the bank account on the invoice was not.

Sergeant Jimmie Walker of the Ōtorohanga Police said another customer avoided a similar trap in the nick of time.

The invoice was for $93,430.

“They tried to pay it online, the bank involved detected the scam and was able to cancel the transaction before it went through,” Walker said.

“We would recommend businesses use higher levels of security for their email and accounting systems, especially the more common two-factor identification processes which are now available.

“And if people receive emailed invoices and notice the banking details have changed from those used for previous payments, they should call the business owners directly to confirm that it is legitimate.”

Walker said this kind of scam had been around a long time, though it was seldom seen in Ōtorohanga and Te Kūiti.

He declined to identify the business concerned or say what goods and services it provided.

Adrian Leineweber, an online fraud expert who has run seminars on the subject at Taumarunui and Ōtorohanga, said he had encountered similar scams in south King Country.

“My suggestion is, if it’s a new company you’ve started dealing with, when you first set up the details in your online banking, ring the business and confirm their bank account details match those on the invoice,” the Mapiu resident said.

“After that, if it changes or is different to the account you’ve paid into before, contact the business to confirm with them before paying any money,” Leineweber said.

Fifteen per cent of Waikato commercial businesses have been the victims of crime, including cybercrime, five or more times in the last two years.

This was revealed at a Retail Loss Reduction Expo hosted by NZI in Hamilton today, where figures were released on how much crime is costing the business community.

Executive general manager Garry Taylor said commercial crime rates reached a record high in 2022 and remained elevated throughout 2023.

“Notably, 85% of NZI’s commercial crime claims were due to burglaries and thefts, and 42% of crime claims lodged by retailers resulted from ram raids.

“The Waikato (which includes King Country statistics) has the second highest rate of commercial crime claims, after Auckland,” Taylor said.


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