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13 April 2024

$15,000 disappears from Dubai expat account after email hacked

By Joseph George

A Dubai-based Indian expatriate was shocked when his cheque issued to a property developer he was invested with, bounced last week. 
Anil Abraham was sure his bank had sufficient funds.

He immediately called his bank in India only to be told by the Branch Manager that the money was transferred at his request, first through e-mail, and then followed by a written and signed document supporting his email.

The money was transferred to someone named Garry Albert Frazer, to a Westpac bank account in New Zealand.
Not only did Abraham not have any clue about who Frazer is, he did not know how the bank managed to obtain a signed affidavit from him instructing the bank to transfer the amount.

Abraham’s email account containing all his vital personal information had been hacked.

“Frazer or whoever that hacked into my email had managed to obtain crucial details about my bank account in India.
“The person then corresponded with the manager in India, writing to him to transfer the amount and later forging my own signature to send additional documents,” says Abraham.

Abraham says he used to use his Gmail account to communicate with the bank.

“So he first wrote to the bank, requesting the money to be transferred. When the bank replied and requested another written document, he managed to access my scanned passport copy before forging my signature,” he says.

According to him, the bank too was vulnerable as they did not opt for personal verification.

“The incident occurred in June (first week) but I got to know about it only after the cheque bounced in July.
“He could have easily obtained another set of $15,000 and none of us would have known about it,” said Abraham.

The letter issued to the bank had errors at three different places. Kerala was spelt as KEERALA and 15 as Fivteen
“The manager says we can file a formal complaint and they would forward the same to the State Police,” adds Abraham.

Hackers Inc.

This is not the first time hackers have managed to convince banks to send wire transfers.

There are many such complaints various banks are processing and a simple online search led us to many similar complaints like this one.

Keep your Gmail safe

Meanwhile here’s a tip for all those who have still not secured their emails, Google has introduced a two-step verification where you email is linked to your mobile phone and whenever someone tries to access your email from an non-trusted device, Google will send a verification code to your phone via SMS which need to be entered for the email to be accessed.

This protects the email from potential hackers and they will not be able to access your mail even when they have your password.

Here’s how you can set it up: Click here

There are various means through which Google is willing to reach you in order to keep your password secure.
It can send verification codes to your cell phone via text message.

In case you don’t always have your primary phone, add backup phone numbers and the SMS verification code will be sent to the other pone as well.

Google even offers to call your cell or landline phone with your verification code.
Users can even print or download a one-time use backup code for times when the phones are not available.

The facility is most handy when a person is travelling and you don’t have roaming enabled.

Not just the Google Authenticator app for Android, iPhone, or BlackBerry generates verification codes that can be used as well. Google says the app works even when your device has no phone or data connectivity.