Wire fraud

You have a sick, unsettling feeling

Your accounting team has just walked into your office. The wire you sent out… didn’t get there… The money is gone.

You know you are on the clock. What you do next makes all the difference.

The rise in business email compromise has caused a marked increase in wire fraud incidents, and the opportunity to limit the loss from wire fraud and increase the potential for recovery is a direct function of experience and response time.

You need a team with experience, resources and relationships to quickly respond – answering the who, how and where issues that put you in the best position to locate and stop your money from moving to a point of no return. Along with the criminals who have your money, time is your greatest enemy.

For McDonald Hopkins’ Wire Fraud Team, which is an extension of the firm’s national Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group, focusing on review, response and recovery comes complete with key relationships and resources with local, state, federal and international authorities, including, insurance and cybersecurity experts to move quickly and effectively, dispelling the frequent myth that your money is gone.

The process: Uncovering the myth

For most victims of wire fraud, realizing that an email has been compromised and significant monies could be gone forever provokes staggering anxiety. Fear, embarrassment and paranoia are natural feelings and these feelings drive many victims to attempt to solve the problem themselves. Unfortunately, time is the enemy and every moment wasted on self-help makes recovery significantly more challenging. The transfers are often online, through remote access from places far outside the victim’s location. Money is moving from one account to another; from one bank to another; from currency to crypto.

Well, should I just call the authorities? It is important to report wire fraud to the authorities, but their job first and foremost is to investigate the fraud from a criminal perspective. Our Wire Fraud Team will work with authorities, but our focus will be on recovering your money. To get a better understanding of how this works, you need to know the process.

Cyber fraudsters, or “cybsters,” often use a “money mule” to establish an account to receive the stolen monies – the “target account.” Cybsters then incorporate the target account information into altered wire instructions. Unfortunately, your team follows the altered instructions and transfers your money to the target account. The cybster’s goal is to get your money out of the target account and off the grid. As authorities make inquiry, they may often inform you that the target account is depleted and thus, the money is gone. While true, for the Wire Fraud Team at McDonald Hopkins, that is merely the beginning of a critical tracing. Tracing brings together legal process, experienced investigators, crypto analytics and strategy that puts you in the best position possible for recovery.

Review, Respond and Recover: A three- pronged approach

Review Business Protocols – From a preventative perspective, the Wire Fraud team at McDonald Hopkins works with your business and work flow protocols to:

  • Consider best practices for money transfers.
  • Inspect and recommend additional insurance policies that may be appropriate.
  • Consider development of an internal EAP (Emergency Action Plan).

The review of your business protocols with the Wire Fraud Team assists in establishing best practices enabling key information relating to your business to be readily available should an emergency response be necessary.

Response – In the event a wire fraud occurs, the Wire Fraud Team is available 24/7 with the resources and logistics to act quickly on your behalf. The response will focus on establishing the facts, coordinating with law enforcement, initial tracing of transfers and, where appropriate, an internal review of employee and cyber vulnerabilities.

Recovery – After the initial response is implemented, the Wire Fraud Team will work with investigators and your business to determine the best options regarding recovery as well as the cost associated with the pursuit of the diverted funds.

If you suspect that your organization has suffered a wire fraud, contact us at WireResponse@mcdonaldhopkins.com.

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