Email scam costs Colorado businesses big money

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DENVER -- Denver Police said a big email scam is targeting Denver-area businesses, so the FOX31 Denver Problem Solvers are getting the word out hoping to prevent others from becoming victims.

The Problem Solvers found out that several local companies have reported similar scams to Denver police within the last two weeks.

All it takes is one email, and at least one local renewable energy company is out close to $100,000.

“This could add up to a large loss for a company if they`re not careful,” Doug Schepman, spokesman for the Denver Police Department said.

Schepman said it seemed like a typical work day for one local company employee in accounts payable.

She received an email from her boss asking her to change bank account information for one of their known vendors.

She did. But only later did they realize that the legitimate-looking email was a scam.

“They were spoofing the email address of a manager, and they were spoofing the email address of a vendor, and sending that to a person in the accounts payable department,” Schepman said.

Local expert with CyberCecurity, Ray Hutchins, told the Problem Solvers that this is happening to businesses all over town.

“They`re being social engineered and tricked to believe that the instructions are coming internally from people that they trust to make these transfers,” he said.

Hutchins said the scammers do their research. They find out who the bosses are, who pays the bills, and who the company works with. Then, they spoof their email accounts.

“One of our clients was spoofed in this manner and they lost $143,000,” Hutchins said.

Hutchins and Denver Police recommend putting a company policy in place to double, or even triple, confirm any banking transactions. Always use a different communication channel, call or speak in person.

Schepman also wanted to warn other local companies to check their books and review their accounts.

“[We want] to make them aware of it so that they can go back, and they can look at their accounts and make sure they haven’t been defrauded.”