I-Team 8

Company nearly loses $50,100 after hacker takes control of its email

LEBANON, Ind. (WISH) — A hacker took control of a Boone County company’s email account and got an employee to transfer $50,100 to an offshore account.

It wasn’t the first time.

The hackers had found a way into the owner of the company’s email account. Owner Meredith Stines said it is a policy of the company, American Ultraviolet, to not open any attachments, but somehow a hacker found a way to take control of his email. “What they did, they got in an got into my email. They were able to send my email to our accounts payable and when she would send it back they would intercept it and send it back to her as if it were me.”

He said the emails looked astonishingly authentic and, since it appeared to come from him, the accounts payable person sent the money. “I found out about and made a quick phone call to the bank, filled out the paperwork. We were just so fortunate that the fed wire was down for three hours that day,” Stines said.

The money was taken out of a company account but held up for a couple hours due to a technical glitch, which gave his bank just enough time to stop the transaction. The transaction wasn’t insured, and Stines was almost certain the money was gone.

According to a complaint filed with the Lebanon Police Department, the money was headed to an offshore bank account of John Zink Keu. Officer Trey Comage says the department is working with bank investigators. He also said they have seen an uptick in scam calls and emails.

“Just be cautious of phone numbers you don’t recognize,” Comage said. 

American Ultraviolet makes fixtures that clean the air and surfaces with ultraviolet light. The company is looking to further secure its email system from another attack.