German firms lost millions of euros in 'CEO Fraud' scam: BSI

A projection of cyber code on a hooded man is pictured in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration

BERLIN (Reuters) - German firms have lost millions of euros to organized crime in a scam dubbed “CEO Fraud” that uses faked memos from top executives to entice accounting personnel to transfer funds, Germany’s federal cyber agency said on Monday.

The BSI agency said officials investigating the new scam had secured a list of 5,000 potential targets, and were notifying those individuals.

Organized criminals were using information they gleaned from social media networks, public company websites, job sites and even calls to the companies to fake the contact information for chief executives and other top executives.

BSI said the Federal Criminal Police Office estimated that the scam had already cost firms millions of euros in recent months.

The scam targets personnel in the accounting and auditing departments of a company who were authorized to transfer funds, often using time pressure and warnings about an alleged “secret project” to manipulate them to carry out the bogus orders.

BSI President Arne Schoenbohm urged companies who had fallen prey to the scam to cancel the transactions and notify police.

He also urged companies to warn all those authorized to carry out financial transactions about the scam.

BSI did not identify affected companies.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Susan Thomas