Small companies victims of $1 billion fraud

“I think they’re losing more now than to the 
James Gang and Bonnie and Clyde and the
rest of the famous gangs combined.”

Unlike the outlaws Bonnie and Clyde, who robbed and killed during the Great Depression in the United States, most of these criminals are anonymous and operate out of Eastern Europe:
Valiena Allison got a call from her bank on a busy morning two years ago about a wire transfer from her company’s account. She told the managers she hadn’t approved the transfer. The problem was, her computer had.

As Allison, chief executive officer of Sterling Heights, Michigan-based Experi-Metal Inc., was to learn, her company computer was approving other transfers as she spoke. During hours of frantic phone calls with her bank, Allison, 45, was unable to stop this cybercrime in progress as transfer followed transfer. By day’s end, $5.2 million was gone.

She turned to her bank, a branch of Comerica Inc. (CMA), to help recover the money for her metal-products firm. It got all but $561,000 of the funds. Then came the surprise: the bank said the loss was Experi-Metal’s problem because it had allowed Allison’s computer to be infected by the hackers.

“At the end of the day, the fraud department at Comerica said: ‘What’s wrong with you? How could you let this happen?’” Allison said.

In increments of a few thousand dollars to a few million per theft, cybercrooks are stealing as much as $1 billion a year from small and mid-sized bank accounts in the U.S. and Europe like Experi-Metal, according to Don Jackson, a security expert at Dell SecureWorks. And account holders are the big losers.
The photo of Bonnie and Clyde was recovered by authorities after they fled their hideout in Joplin, Missouri.

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