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Coronavirus: Fraud Defence Alert Issued In Wake Of Pandemic


Cyber-criminals and fraudsters are likely to try to exploit the coronavirus pandemic by targeting Defence workers and personnel, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has warned.

The MOD has issued a warning to anyone working in the Defence community that a sharp rise in fraudulent activity is expected, as fraudsters look to exploit the disorientation created by rapid changes in procedure in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organisations are having to adopt new ways of conducting business with suppliers as they adapt to the challenges posed by the pandemic and fraudsters are likely to seize on the confusion caused by the unfamiliar new ways of working.

In a Fraud Defence Alert, the MOD warned:

“Fraudsters will be looking to exploit business vulnerabilities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These will include increased pressures placed upon systems and the adapted controls and processes that may have otherwise flagged attempts to defraud the organisation."

The warning said two types of fraudulent activity are expected in particular, including mandate fraud, in relation to bank transfer mandates and direct debits, and CEO fraud, in relation to payroll bank account details, adding:

“It is imperative that all colleagues across Defence are well-equipped to identify, stop and report attempts of mandate and CEO fraud from taking place."

Businesses and staff should especially watch out for emails with and suffixes, as many organisations are reporting that they have been initially contacted by fraudsters using accounts such as these.

The MOD has issued advice on what to look out for and how to prevent and protect against fraud, encouraging everyone in the Defence sector to be vigilant and help identify, stop and report any fraud attempts.

What Is Mandate Fraud? 

Mandate fraud occurs when someone contacts a Ministry Of Defence team or organisation within the Defence sector with a request to change a direct debit, standing order or bank transfer mandate, by pretending to be from a genuine supplier that already receives regular payments.

If the change is made as requested, payments are then diverted into the fraudster’s bank account.

This will most likely be redistributed into multiple mule accounts before the original account is closed-down, therefore making the flow untraceable.

What Are Cybercriminals After?

Javvad Malik is a Security Awareness Advocate at training company KnowBe4, and is one of the industry’s most prolific video bloggers. He spoke to BFBS Radio about the ways cybercriminals try to scam people online. Listen to Richard Hatch and Verity Geere speak to him below and discover some valuable tips for staying safe online ...


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