Publishing giant Nikkei lost roughly 29 million dollars after an employee of the Nikkei America subsidiary was tricked by scammers to send the funds to a bank account they controlled.
Nikkei is one of the world’s largest media corporations with around 4 million print and digital subscribers, and more than 40 affiliated companies involved in publishing, broadcasting, events, database services, and the index business.
The media group acquired the Financial Times in 2015, and it currently has 37 foreign editorial bureaus and about 1,500 journalists all around the world.
BEC scam reported to authorities
BEC (short for business email compromise) and otherwise known as Email Account Compromise, CEO fraud, or CEO impersonation is a fraud scheme through which crooks trick a company’s employees into transferring funds to attacker-controlled bank accounts they control either via computer intrusion or by using social engineering.
In Nikkei America’s case, the scammers requested wire transfers using fraudulent information by posing as a Nikkei executive.
“In late September 2019, an employee of Nikkei America, Inc. (New York City, United States) (‘Nikkei America’), a subsidiary of Nikkei Inc. (‘Nikkei’), had transferred approximately 29 million United States dollars (approximately 3.2 billion Japanese Yen) of Nikkei America funds based on fraudulent instructions by a malicious third party who purported to be a management executive of Nikkei,” said the company in a press release.
Nikkei America also filed a damage report with both US and Hong Kong authorities and “retained lawyers to confirm the underlying facts” after discovering the fraudulent transfers made during late September 2019.
The company is in the process of recovering the stolen funds and is also “taking measures to fully cooperate with the investigations.”
“In order to maintain the confidentiality of the investigation by relevant authorities, we will refrain for the time being from providing any more details about the matter,” added Nikkei’s PR office.
High profile fraud victims
The BEC scam reported by Nikkei on October 30 follows a similar attack from September against Toyota Boshoku Corporation, a Toyota Group car components manufacturer.
The company announced on September 6 that one of its European subsidiaries lost over $37 million following a business email compromise (BEC) attack that took place on August 14.
According to their release, Toyota Boshoku Corporation’s expected financial loss following the incident is of about 4 billion yen ($37,472,000 or €33,904,000).
On the whole, BEC victims lost more than $1,2 billion in 2018 as per an Internet Crime report issued by FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) also published a report stating that BEC SAR (short for suspicious activity reports) filings grew from a $110 million monthly average in 2016 to over $301 million per month in 2018.
The FBI also said in a BEC public service announcement issued in September that victim complaints related to 166,349 domestic and international incidents were received between June 2016 and July 2019, with a total exposed dollar loss of more than $26 billion.