19 Mar, 2024 @ 11:42
1 min read

Humiliation for town hall in southern Spain after losing €450,000 to ‘phishing’ scammers

Cybercriminals threaten to publish 'infected' patient files from hospital in Spain's Barcelona
Image by Lars Nissen from Pixabay

GUARDIA Civil cybercrime experts are investigating whether a Murcia region council has lost over €455,000 of public money through an email scam.

The mayor of Torre Pacheco, Pedro Angel Roca, said that he was ‘hopeful’ that the money can be recovered.

“We still don’t know what has happened, because we have to let the Guardia do their job, but I can tell residents that the council and its officials acted properly and in accordance with rules for such cases.”

TORRE PACHECO TOWN HALL(Torre Pacheco Aytm image)

Alarm bells were triggered when the authority’s electricity supplier CEGM got in touch to see when the latest invoice would be paid.

Municipal staff said the money had already been transferred to a new account- details of which were sent in an email supposedly from CEGM in early March.

The problem is that CEGM deny having sent such an email- leading to the likelihood that the council had been hoodwinked by a ‘phishing’ con.

It’s a well-known fraud where scammers send invoices in emails to organisations or people who believe they are getting them from a genuine source.

Guardia officers are trying to find where the money landed, with the transfer made to a ‘well-known’ European bank that has a strong international presence.

Mayor Angel Roca admitted that his council could well have been ‘phished’.

MAYOR ANGEL ROCA(Facebook image)

He also conceded that the authority agreed to a change of bank account following a request from CEGM that appeared to be genuine and ‘corresponded with the information sent by email which included a certificate of ownership of the account’.

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Alex Trelinski

Alex worked for 30 years for the BBC as a presenter, producer and manager. He covered a variety of areas specialising in sport, news and politics. After moving to the Costa Blanca over a decade ago, he edited a newspaper for 5 years and worked on local radio.

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