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Businesses beware: Scammers may fool you with near identical email addresses

CBI probes case of jewellers being robbed of Rs 16 crore after mail address similar to their official’s misleads them into transferring money to fraud account

india Updated: Apr 30, 2017 09:35 IST
Azaan Javaid
Azaan Javaid
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
scam,CBI,Mail spoofing

The next time you receive an e-mail from a business associate, double check the address to ensure someone is not attempting fool you by using a near-replica address in an impersonation trick.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) began on Friday a probe into an email scam that fooled two jewellers, one in India and the other in Singapore, into diverting approximately Rs 16 crore by using an email address that was almost the same as one being used in their communications, save for an extra letter.

On December 18, 2013, Tamil Nadu firm RKR Gold struck a deal to sell 6,700 gms of gold to Valuemax Precious Metals for $2,576,801.

According to the CBI’s first investigation report, the deal went through proper channels and the companies were in touch with each other over e-mail. The Indian firm used jk.rkrgold@gmail.com to correspond with sally@valuemax.org.

In these communications, it was decided that the money would be sent to RKR’s Bank of India account opened in Chennai.

But the money never came.

Nearly a month later, when RKR’s general manager P Hari visited his partner firm in Singapore, he was told they had transferred the money within 12 days of their deal going through.

When Hari probed, he found out that his partner firm had received an email from jk.rkrgolds@gmail.com informing that the amount be sent to an HSBC account owned by one Grace Tann.

Valuemax officials did not notice the extra ‘S’ in the email address, which belonged to the scam suspect. They duly sent the money to the HSBC account, whose purported owner Grace Tann is now the named suspect in the CBI case.

It was later discovered that RKR Gold too received a similar email from the same suspects, confirming the money had been paid. The fake address in this case was usedsally@valuemax.com.sg, close to the original sally@valuemax.org.

Such scams are known as ‘confidence tricks’, where victims are fooled into believing they are communicating with a trusted associate.

The CBI has filed a criminal case under IPC sections for cheating and the IT act against Tann, whose address is suspected to be in Woodlands Avenue area of Singapore. Officials of the probe agency are likely to travel to Singapore for investigations.

First Published: Apr 30, 2017 09:24 IST