Singapore (April 8, 2020) – Europol initiated the arrest of a suspect in a Business Email Compromise (BEC) scam related to COVID-19. Singaporean authorities arrested a 39-year-old man on March 25 for being involved in spoofing the identity of a legitimate company and defrauding a European pharmaceutical company out of more than 6 million euros. It is alleged that he offered face masks and hand sanitizers, which the pharmaceutical company ordered and paid, but he never delivered.
Europol announced on April 6 that they initiated the arrest of a 39-year-old suspect by Singaporean authorities on March 25. He is accused of being involved in a Business Email Compromise (BEC) fraud related to COVID-19. Europol alleges that the suspected man tried to launder more than 6 million euros generated by the Corona BEC scam
Corona Business Email Scam
The authorities believe that the 39-year-old man was involved in spoofing the identity of a legitimate company and subsequently offering fast delivery of FFP2 surgical masks and hand sanitizers knowing that these products have become invaluable in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
An unnamed European pharmaceutical company ordered products worth 6.64 million euros following the fraudulent offer. Once the European business transferred the money to a bank in Singapore, the supplier became uncontactable and the items were never delivered.
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Alleged fraudster arrested in Singapore
The European member state in which the pharmaceutical company is based reported the incident to Europol. Subsequently, the EU’s law enforcement agency contacted the authorities in Singapore. Thereupon, the payment was blocked and the Singaporean authorities identified the man who had received the funds.
The man who tried to launder the 6.64 million euros was arrested on March 25 as a result of the international police cooperation.
According to Europol, ‘criminals have been quick to seize opportunities to exploit the crisis by adapting their modi operandi or engaging in new criminal activities. Law enforcement is taking a very serious view on all those who are trying to profit from the anxieties and fears of victims throughout the crisis.’
In a recent report, Europol explains how criminals profit from the COVID-19 pandemic: ‘The number of cyberattacks against organizations and individuals is significant and is expected to increase,’ Europol stated. ‘Criminals have used the COVID-19 crisis to carry out social engineering attacks themed around the pandemic to distribute various malware packages […] and are also likely to seek to exploit an increasing number of attack vectors as a greater number of employers institute telework and allow connections to their organizations’ systems.’