Police say a clerical employee of a government agency in North Vancouver received an email from her supervisor in mid-September, asking her to buy $500 in iTunes gift cards.
The supervisor claimed to be in a long meeting and too busy to buy the cards himself. He asked that the employee forward the gift cards to him.
But the staffer became suspicious when she received a second email urgently asking her to buy another set of $500 gift cards. She contacted her boss and realized she had been duped.
RCMP say this is what's known as a "CEO scam," in which fraudsters gain access to the email account of a supervisor and target employees who have the authority to access and move money.
Cpl. Richard De Jong said RCMP have encountered these scams before, but it's the first of this scale in North Vancouver. He said RCMP are still investigating the incident.
"Any time iTunes cards are involved, it's very, very difficult to trace that," he said.
De Jong said the scam isn't limited to gift cards, but can also involve direct transfers of money from the company to another account.
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RCMP are warning local businesses after the “CEO scam” took place at a government agency in North Vancouver.
The incident happened last month when a clerical employee was given e-mail instruction from her “supervisor” to go out and purchase $500 in iTunes gift cards.
In the email, the “supervisor” claimed he was in a lengthy meeting, was too busy to purchase them himself, and asked her to forward the card details back to him.
After acquiring the cards and sending the information, she received a second request for an additional $500 in gift cards. It was only then that she became suspicious of the event.
Richard De Jong, a spokesperson with the North Vancouver RCMP, explains that fraudsters will “gain access to the e-mail account of an executive or supervisor and target employees who have the authority to access and move money.”
Often times the emails will request “urgent” wire transfers or gift card purchases for either “confidential transactions” or to help “secure an important contract.”
To make matters more difficult, scammers will send the emails when supervisors or higher-ups are travelling and difficult to contact.
“Losses to this type of scam can range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars. The fake ‘CEO Scam’ is a growing threat to businesses and organizations of all sizes.”