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FBI Warns Small Businesses of Unauthorized Wire Transfers to China

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI issued a fraud warning Tuesday alerting small- and medium-sized businesses about a series of unauthorized wire transfers going to China which have resulted in $11 million being taken from about 20 U.S. companies. According to the FBI, the cyber-criminals have attempted to steal $20 million but $9 million in transfers have not gone through. The FBI alert issued Tuesday notes that the wire transfers have been between $50,000 and $985,000 going to trade companies along the China-Russia border.
“The intended recipients of the international wire transfers are economic and trade companies located in the Heilongjiang province in the People’s Republic of China....The economic and trade companies appear to be registered as legitimate businesses and typically hold bank accounts with the Agricultural Bank of China, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the Bank of China,” the fraud alert noted.
The FBI cautioned that once the money is in the bank accounts of these companies it is immediately withdrawn. The warning was issued by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center.  The warning notes that the computers of individuals who are authorized to make wire and money transfers are compromised by malware and spoofed emails known as “phishing” attacks. which allow the computer thieves to obtain username and password information.
The FBI also believes the accounts may have been compromised by a Botnet attack which is composed of armies of so-called "zombie" computers, often ordinary people's machines, that have been hijacked by hackers and ordered to vacuum up private information from bank accounts, credit card data and email services. Earlier this month the FBI and Justice Department disabled a Botnet known as “Coreflood” which infected more than two million computers with malicious code. 
“At this time, it is unknown who is behind these unauthorized transfers, if the Chinese accounts were the final transfer destination or if the funds were transferred elsewhere, or why the legitimate companies received the unauthorized funds,” the warning stated.
According to U.S. cyber-security officials, small- and medium-sized businesses have been targeted by hackers since they may not have robust computer security and IT systems in place that large corporations have.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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