Police urge businesses to be wary of scams

ORILLIA – Members of the OPP Anti-Rackets Branch and Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) are warning Ontario businesses to confirm emails and phone messages before sending anyone cash or other payments. 

“These are tools criminals use to extort money and personal information from you and your company,” police stated in a press release.

Ontario businesses and municipalities are being targeted by two types of scams: the “business executive” scam and the “card not present” scam. 

In the business executive scam, also known as the business email compromise, the potential victim receives an email that appears to come from an executive or supervisor in their own company who has the authority to request money transfers.

In some cases, the fraudsters create an email address that mimics that of a CEO or CFO or the fraudsters have compromised and used the CEO’s or CFO’s actual email account. The spoofed email message is then sent to an employee who is authorized to conduct wire transfers. 

The email indicates the “executive” is “working off-site” and has identified an outstanding payment that needs to be paid as soon as possible. The “executive” instructs the payment be made and provides a name and a bank account where the funds – generally a large dollar amount – are to be sent. Police report typical losses in excess of $100,000.

In the card not present scam, Ontario businesses are targeted by fraudsters who claim to represent a regular supplier or an existing contractor. 

The scam targets businesses that have existing relationships and accounts with suppliers, wholesalers or contractors. The scam usually involves a spoofed email informing the buyers of a change in payment arrangements. 

The email notice provides “new” banking details and requests that future payments be made to this account. Fraudsters are also calling local businesses and providing stolen credit card information in order to make large purchases. 

The spin is the urgency that is placed on the purchase and the supplier falls victim when they should have waited the proper time in order for the purchase to clear. In many cases, the business owner is responsible for the outstanding amount.

Police are offering the following tips to prevent business scams:

– beware irregular email requests for urgent fund transfers;

– prior to sending any funds or product, make contact with the requestor in person or by telephone to confirm the request is legitimate;

– watch for spelling and formatting errors and be wary of clicking on any attachments as they can contain viruses and spyware; 

– always wait the prescribed time from the specified credit card company before the items are delivered.

Anyone who suspects they’re a victim of a business executive or card not present scam, can contact local police and the CAFC at 1-888-495-8501 or through its website.