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Harry Potter And The Credit Card Scam?

Harry Potter and the Credit Card Fraud Scam?

Expense card scams can impact even beloved authors if a recent court case is any indication — and in this case, JK Rowling seems to have been an unwitting victim. Elsewhere, a hacker group is hard at work targeting thousands of CFOs worldwide to transfer funds under false pretenses.

There’s seemingly no magic in this tale.

The BBC reports that beloved JK Rowling – she of “Harry Potter” fame and fortune – has been at the center of a credit card scam. The site reports that a former personal assistant of Rowling’s, Amanda Donaldson, has been charged with using a card (allegedly to be used solely for business expenses) to rack up charges totaling thousands of pounds for personal items.

Donaldson, said the site, had been employed to help manage Rowling’s business and personal matters.

In one example, Donaldson was accused of spending more than 3,600 pounds on luxury cosmetics. Elsewhere, there were allegedly thousands of pounds spent at stationery stores and Starbucks. In another example, roughly 600 pounds were spent ostensibly for a Christmas lunch.

The total tally of unauthorized spend came to roughly 24,000 pounds, said Rowling and her husband in U.K. court.

Global Fraud, CFOs in Sight

Separately, on the world stage, as noted in this space earlier in the week, chief financial officers at some of the biggest financial institutions in the world are being targeted by a group of hackers – and those hackers have a list of 35,000 CFOs from which to try and scam money, with an additional several thousand accountants and other financial professionals thrown into the mix.

The scope of the scam comes courtesy of cyber threat detection firm Agari, which has said the group, London Blue, seeks to ply its trade through the business email compromise (BEC) effort. The emails try to get the victims to send money to accounts – and the money, of course, is likely to disappear forever.

“It is pure social engineering,” Crane Hassold, senior director of threat research at Agari, told Financial Times. In at least one reported instance, a “money mule” was able to convince a bank’s loss prevention unit that a transaction for more than $20,000 was legitimate. London Blue has collaborative efforts stretching across Europe and Africa, and half of the targets have been based in the U.S., with the remainder mostly in Europe.

Said the Agari researchers in their report: “London Blue’s effectiveness depends on working with commercial data brokers to assemble lists of target victims around the world. Doing so gives it the attack volume of a mass spam campaign, but with the target-specific customization of spear-phishing attacks.”

Separately, in individual company news, Michael Lynch, the former chief executive officer of U.K.-based Autonomy, has been charged with fraud in the U.S. The indictment stems from the 2011 buy of Autonomy by HP – and the investigation into how the CFO of the company, Sushovan Hussain, worked to fraudulently derive a $10.3 purchase price. The publication Accounting Today noted that Lynch had been “long identified” as a co-conspirator in the fraud, which then resulted in HP’s writing down the value of the firm by $8.8 billion. Lynch resigned from several government posts this past week.

In one instance that stretches across music, Alan Landsman, the former bassist for a metalcore band known as Poison Well, has been convicted in a scam that defrauded churches, schools and other organizations to steal as much as $50 million through “sham sales” of light bulbs and cleaning supplies to firms. The fraudsters cold-called firms, obtained personal information and fabricated business relationships with Midway, a company they used to generate fictitious invoices. The former bassist has been sentenced to as much as 72 months in jail for mail fraud.

Finally, the Dallas County News reported this past week that the state auditor found in an audit of the Waukee Community School District that during a period stretching from 2013 to 2017, there were more than $128,000 in improper disbursements from “altered timecard and timecard errors” and procurement card spend that went to retreats for district administrators and for office furniture.

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