Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 10.32.45Telecommunications specialist Mike Odysseas is warning North East businesses of an increase in targeted, sophisticated email fraud.

His business, Stockton-based Odyssey Systems has experienced a spike in ‘socially-engineered fraud’ where scammers are using advanced methods to extract money from their victims.

The company is now monitoring more than 200 emails per day within the million messages sent to its Internet Service Provider (ISP) business customers where fraudsters appear to adopt people’s email addresses and try to encourage financial transactions with the email account holder’s contacts.

Common email fraud practices, known as phishing, aim to trick recipients into believing they know the person or company corresponding with them.  To prevent being caught by these scams, recipients can check the email address the message comes, which will reveal it has no connection to the supposed real sender.

However, scammers are now utilising a new method, which actually mirrors real email addresses and make messages look genuine and, therefore, can also fool monitoring systems and programmes including Microsoft Outlook.

Fraudsters are also researching the contacts the accounts they are mirroring and their contacts to make the emails more genuine and dupe unsuspecting victims.

Odyssey Systems, which provides ISP services to hundreds of businesses across the North East, has identified this new practice and is employing new protocols within its automated email monitoring systems, including the ability to identify the fraudsters Internet Protocol (IP) address to capture these email before they reach their recipients

Mike Odysseas, Managing Director of Odyssey Systems, said: “This kind of socially-engineered fraud is on the rise and people have to remain vigilant.  It means questioning any messages they receive about financial transactions, even if it looks like it’s from someone they know.

“Fraudsters are relentless in their use of email as a way to illegally obtain money.  This latest method has the ability to not only trick recipients through a genuine looking message, but also fool computer programmes into thinking it has been generated by the real email address.

“This could have serious financial implications for North East businesses and as a responsible Internet Service Provider we are continually creating new variables to prevent this horrendous practice from affecting our customers.”