Victoria police warn of ‘spear phishing’ scam

Victoria police are warning businesses and organizations about an increase in a common cybercrime known as “spear phishing.”

Spear phishing involves criminals who try to redirect or fraudulently start payments by getting into the communications system of a business or organization. Once in, they try to pass themselves off as someone with authority to make financial decisions. They also send emails that come from what appears to be a trusted source.

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With so many people needing to work remotely due to COVID-19, such cybercrimes are on the rise, police said. A national alert was issued by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre about the scam.

Police said Victoria and Esquimalt have seen various spear-phishing attacks, including one where a fraudster claimed to have financial authority and demanded a transfer of funds. The attempt was thwarted when a staff member realized that the email address used was one letter off the correct address.

Signs of possible fraud include unsolicited emails, direct contact with a senior official you are not usually in contact with, and pressure or a sense of urgency.

Contact Victoria police at 250-995-7654, ext. 1, as well as your financial institution if you have been a victim of fraud, and stop payment immediately.

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