Earlier this month, Leoni AG, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of wires and electrical cables, informed investors that the German company lost almost 40 million euros (or about $44.6 million) to online scammers. Today, we finally know how: According to investigators, the thieves simply spoofed emails to look like official payment requests, a tactic known as “CEO fraud.”
Speaking to Romanian media, authorities said the CFO of a Leoni factory in Romania sent the funds after receiving emails cloned to look like they came from German executives. Employees reportedly say that even large payments were often made this way, as the system was considered extremely safe. From Softpedia News:
Investigators say the email was crafted in such a way to take into account Leoni’s internal procedures for approving and transferring funds. This detail shows that attackers scouted the firm in advance.
The Bistrita factory was not chosen at random either. Leoni has four factories in Romania, and the Bistrita branch is the only one authorized to make money transfers.
According to Adevărul, investigators have not yet identified the scammers, but say it’s possible the funds were sent to an account in the Czech Republic. Either way, it’s possible the damage can’t be undone: Since announcing the attack, Leoni’s stock has dropped by almost 7 percent.