Economy

A Canadian University Just Lost $10M In an Email Phishing Scam

A Canadian University Just Lost $10M In an Email Phishing Scam

An Edmonton university was defrauded of $11.8 million after staff failed to call one of its vendors to verify whether emails requesting a change in banking information were legitimate.

Using that site, the fraudsters impersonated the vendors, asking the university to transfer accounts payable to a new bank account the fraudsters controlled.

"There is never a good time for something like this to happen", Beharry said.

Three staffers made payments in three separate installments, according to the Toronto Star. The university paid out $1.9 million, $22,000, and finally $9.9 million.

MacEwan University discovered the fraud on August 23 after the legitimate vendor, a construction company, called to ask why it hadn't been paid.

Beharry said $6.3 million has been seized from the account in Montreal, and actions are underway to freeze the two accounts in Hong Kong.

As the funds have been frozen, the remaining balance of the fund is still unknown at this time.

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So far it has managed to trace C$11.4 million to accounts in Canada and Hong Kong.

"Personal and financial information, and all transactions made with the university are secure", Beharry said in a statement.

"While I'm told that MacEwan has put improved internal financial controls to help prevent it from happening again, I expect post-secondary institutions to do better to protect public dollars against fraud".

Local police and law enforcement in Hong Kong and Montreal and security units of banks involved with the e-transfers are working to resolve the criminal side of the case.

Mr Beharry also said the university was working to ensure that this fraud would not impact future educational or business operations. "As our students come back to the start of the new academic year, we want to assure them and the community that our IT systems were not compromised".

MacEwan has informed both the minister of advanced education and the province's auditor general, as well as other interested parties, Beharry said.