​Man arrested for $100m email fraud scam against multinational tech firms

  • Liam Tung (CSO Online)
  • 23 March, 2017 08:27

The FBI has arrested a Lithuanian man accused of running a scam in which he posed as a hardware company to defraud multinational internet companies of over $100 million.

US authorities have announced criminal charges against Evaldas Rimasauskas, a 48 year-old Lithuanian national accused of operating an elaborate business email compromise scheme that defrauded two unnamed US-based global companies out of over $100 million. One firm is described as a multinational technology company and a second is a social media and networking company.

Business email compromise or BEC is a growing cause of concern for businesses and law enforcement. The FBI estimates that firms’ exposure to the fraud exceeded $3 billion in losses worldwide between 2013 and 2016.

While the fraud takes many shapes, it doesn’t necessarily require the victim be hacked, but usually involves forged documents and spoofed email addresses. A classic example that saw toy-maker Mattel narrowly escape a $3m loss relied on an email address that looked similar to the CEO’s, which was used to instruct a subordinate to urgently wire funds to a supplier.

Rimasauskas allegedly used a similar front against the two tech firms, whose employees were conned into wiring over $100 million via several transactions into accounts he controlled.

His scheme involved a firm he’d set up in Latvia that used the same name of an Asia-based hardware technology company that regularly conducted large transactions with the two victims.

He’d also set up a second company that had bank accounts in Latvia and Cyprus and then targeted the companies that did legitimate business with the real Asian hardware maker.

Rimasauskas capitalized on the relationship between buyer and seller through phishing emails that directed victims to pay funds to his accounts in Latvia and Cyprus, according to the indictment.

He would then quickly disperse the funds to bank accounts he held in Latvia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Hungary, and Hong Kong. To hide the true destination of the funds, he directed the victims to pay the them to correspondent accounts, which are established to receive deposits, that were based in New York.

The material he used to convince victims to wire funds included forged invoices, contracts, logos and letters with supposed signatures from senior executives of the victim firms. Victims were convinced to send these to banks to legitimize the frequency of the wire transfers. He’d even forged a letter from one of the victim’s banks to enable a fraudulent transfer.