How a millionaire lost $ 1 million for an email [BBC]

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John Kahlbetzer is one of the richest men in Australia. He was victim of the way of fraud by internet ‘phishing’

The Australian businessman suffered a scam known as “phishing” that was managed through email.

John Kahlbetzer has been on Forbes magazine’s list of the 50 richest men in Australia for years. But, just a few weeks ago, his name is also linked to something much less attractive: a millionaire scam.

The founder of the agricultural company Twynam Agricultural Group lost US $ 1 million after suffering a fraud by email, as it was learned in December in a court in the United Kingdom.

It happened in an apparently simple way.

According to court documents, some scammers deceived the person in charge of managing the Australian’s finances and managed to persuade him to transfer the money to a British account.

To do this, they sent an email to their victim, Christine Campbell -the manager of the businessman’s personal finances- posing as the 87-year-old billionaire, and they convinced her to transfer US $ 1 million to the account of the British David Aldridge.

The businessman’s lawyers explained that Aldridge “actively facilitated the payment of the sum to his account.”

Kahlbetzer, who lives in Australia but was born in Argentina, has assets that exceed US $ 950 million, according to Forbes.

The scam was effective thanks to a technique widely used by scammers and which is called “phising”, a term that comes from the English word fishing, which in Spanish means “to fish”.

The word refers to how scammers cheat their victims to “take the bait” and fall into their trap.

John Kahlbetzer is 87 years old and his fortune is close to US $ 1,000 million. (Photo)

In this case, the email address of the “phishers” was practically the same as the one used by Kahlbetzer, but with a different letter. However, it had been manipulated so that it would appear on Campbell’s screen as if it were the original.

It is a fairly common identity spoofing technique.

Many times this type of fraud is carried out not only to steal money, but also to obtain sensitive information and personal data.

During the trial, Campbell said it was “reasonably normal” to receive a request from Kahlbetzer to make a transfer of that amount.

He also explained that, looking at it in retrospect, it was clear that this email was not written in “perfect English”, but he did not see it as a problem at that moment because it seemed to him that his boss was writing in a hurry.

According to specialists, fraudulent emails often contain spelling errors and being alert to these types of failures can be useful in detecting them.

Kahlbetzer’s lawyers filed a lawsuit against Aldridge, the owner of the account to which the money was sent, but he said he was “involuntarily” used “to commit the crime and that he was, in turn, the victim of another scam, of which he blamed a woman he had supposedly met on the internet.

At the moment, there is no evidence to confirm the testimony of Aldridge, according to the defense of the Australian businessman.

Fraud through email spoofing is becoming more common.

A growing phenomenon
Phishing is an increasingly common problem, especially in business environments.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States (FBI, for its acronym in English), this type of fraud involves an annual cost of about US $ 3.900 million for companies since 2015.

And this type of scams “continues to grow, evolving and attacking companies of all sizes,” the FBI Internet Crimes Complaint Center explains on its website.

Do you think you were a victim of phishing?
Change your passwords as soon as possible. And get in touch with the institution that the hackers were trying to use to limit its effect.

Action Fraud, the British cyber crime reporting center, says it receives more than 350 complaints of scams per month, recommends the following if you receive a fraudulent email:

Do not respond to the email or contact the person who sent it to you.
Do not open any attached item.
Do not click on any link.
If you have already clicked, do not provide any personal information on that website.

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