Murcian Almonds Company Coato Has Been The Victim Of An Online Scam For €91,500
Coato, one of the most important agricultural cooperative societies in the region of Murcia, and a company in the Netherlands that was interested in buying its famous organic almonds in bulk from the Murcian company’s base in the town of Totana, have both fallen victim to an elaborate ‘phishing‘ operation that netted the criminal €91,500.
As reported by El Español publication, the Guardia Civil’s cybercrimes unit opened an investigation into this scam that started back in November 2020, when the two companies had started exchanging emails and phone calls, but didn’t close any deal, which is the point at which the alleged hacker – who is a criminal known to the police for his online activities – got involved.
Using his phishing skills, the hacker reactivated the almonds deal by slightly modifying the contact details of both companies, and sending emails, to make each one believe they were really dealing with each other to broker a deal, and by March 2021 the criminal had managed to get both parties to agree to deal for the Dutch company to purchase 10,000 kilos of organic almonds from Coato for a total of €91,500.
As a crowning glory, the hacker even got Coato’s bank account information as part of the transaction, to which the Dutch company was supposed to send a payment for the product.
Coato sent the 10,000 kilos of organic almonds to the company in the Netherlands, but thirty days later, when no payment had been received as per the conditions of sale, the two companies realised they had been victims of a scam, with the Guardia Civil confirming they traced the source of the emails to Equitorial Guinea, on the west coast of Africa, and established that the hacker had a good knowledge of the agri-food sector, and capable of commercial expertise in negotiating.
It was also discovered that the money was deposited in a bank in England, and the cybercrime unit is reportedly trying to trace the money, but luckily for Coato, a spokesman said, “Our insurance company is prepared to cover this incident”.
The Dutch company has also reported the crime to the relevant authorities in the Netherlands, and it is reported that they have been in contact with the Murcian company, as they are in possession of the delivery of almonds, and a spokesman for Coato said that “The client assumes part of his responsibility and has agreed to pay a significant amount of the operation”.
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