26 July 2018

Scams and other fraud

Category: Financial law

There is an increase in CEO fraud, a specific surge of this fraudulent activity is rooted in Business Email Compromise. Through this deception, criminals are infiltrating and using Dutch Bank accounts (ABN AMRO, ING BANK). As a Dutch attorney specialised in recovery, I have successfully frozen bank accounts and recovered funds for victims of CEO fraud.

What is CEO Fraud or Business Email fraud?

CEO fraud involves the impersonation of a CEO, CFO or a high-level employer from an organisation in order to divert payments into a fraudulent bank account. As an attorney I have noticed an increase in money mule tactics in the targeting of Dutch bank accounts. This is where the imposters transfer the illicit funds into a provided account of a willing participant to the scam. In doing so, the money is then made accessible through a simple cash withdrawal.

Criminals are quite sophisticated and well equipped to compromise the security of bank accounts in this way. Quite often, the scheme we see employed is where the financial department of a business partner (the victim) receives an email or telephone call, which appears to come from a legitimate supplier. In these emails, the victim receives a request for payment to a different bank account. These phishing emails look authentic and garner the desired attention from their victims. They appear to come from the CEO, CFO or someone you know. In some cases, criminals have even posed as an attorney or notary, in order to present a sense of legitimacy.

Generally, the criminal creates a sense of urgency, by stating the issue is both time-sensitive and confidential. This feeling of urgency tricks you into acting straight away. Absent any caution, this is why many are unable to discover the scam before they fall for the ploy.

It is apparent that the fraudsters do their research. Consequently, their attacks prove quite effective. Sometimes, the criminals even have help from within the organisation, providing names of regular business partners and other officials within your organisation. These cyber criminals also gather information on your organisation through sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. In addition, criminals have been known to target staff in the financial department.

How to take action against CEO fraud in the Netherlands

First of all, it is crucial to take swift action. Once you discover the CEO scam/fraud, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Time is of the essence, especially with the possibility to freeze the bank account. Criminals will usually try to wire the funds to another account (which could take days or weeks, due to practical constraints in bank transfers), it’s at this point they are most vulnerable and is thus the stage at which legal action is key.

In my previous experience, I have noticed victims feel ashamed or embarrassed to have fallen victim to the fraud. This causes unfortunate and preventable delays.

Instead, it should be stressed that action be taken as soon as possible, to avoid further loss.

Due to privacy legislation (GDPR), banks will not provide you with details of the Dutch bank account involved. It is then necessary to seek an attorney to assist you. I can help you in trying to freeze the bank account, file for criminal charges and commence legal proceedings in the Netherlands. Without a court verdict, banks will not wire any funds. Although the CEO fraud may be clear to me and the client, the account holder will be assumed innocent until proven guilty.

Banks will not take the risk of wiring funds, without a judgment in civil or criminal proceedings in the Netherlands.

Need legal assistance? As a Dutch attorney, I have successfully frozen bank accounts in the Netherlands and retrieved funds.