The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) has lost $300,00 to a phishing scam where a fraudster pretended to be an internal staff member. ERCA says it found out about the fraud last Thursday. In a media release, it says someone sent a "complex phishing email" to a member of their staff to trick them out of the money.
Two transactions were made to two falsified bank accounts, the first being an e-transfer of $61,876 on July 14, followed by a second request on July 27 for a massive amount of approximately $230,865.
"Rest assured we are working with all appropriate authorities to fully investigate this matter," said Kieran McKenzie, chair of the conservation authority's board of directors.
The conservation authority says that none of money affected by the fraud was from the Essex Region Conservation Foundation, which means no funds from donors have been impacted.
Once it found out about the fraud, ERCA says it reported the unauthorized payments to its bank, and notified their insurer and the Ontario Provincial Police. Additional "internal controls," it says, were also implemented to prevent any future occurrences.
The authority also confirmed that its IT systems weren't further compromised throughout the fraud, and a review of its current processes will show whether there is a need for any other changes.
ERCA says the criminal investigation is ongoing.
In 2019, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received 46,465 reports of fraud.