Police are investigating after helping to recover a sum paid out by the GNWT to a fraudster via a fake invoice.

According to a news release by the NT RCMP, a GNWT vendor was the subject of a cyber-phishing campaign.

The suspect received a number of invoices from this vendor including one made payable to one of the GNWT departments. The suspect then created a fake website and various email addresses closely mirroring the actual company and its employees.

The suspect sent a false invoice that closely resembled a legitimate bill from the vendor and requested it be paid to a different financial institution than the company usually dealt with.

The invoice was discovered to be fraudulent sometime after it was paid and was reported to police. Investigators were able to recover the entire sum stolen. The amount was not disclosed.

“The GNWT quickly reported it to the NT RCMP, which allowed quick decisive actions by the NT RCMP and banking partners,” RCMP spokesperson Julie Plourde said in a news release.

She added that there have been several similar frauds targeting large and small businesses and governments throughout Canada and the NWT.

“This incident serves as a reminder to diligently check the email address and credentials of any entity requesting payment from you or your business,” added ‘G’ Division financial crimes unit commander Staff Sgt. Dean Riou.

The NT RCMP stated the Financial Crimes Unit will be continuing their criminal investigation. No charges have been laid.

Police offered the following advice on how to avoid falling victim to a phishing scam:

About phishing scams:

A scammer sends an email that appears to be from a recognizable institution or company such as a bank or online subscription service. The email may claim that you need to update your account or that your tax refund is ready. Whatever the message is, the email is an attempt to trick you into providing your personal or financial information.

How to protect yourself:

  • Watch out for invoices using the name of legitimate companies. Scammers will use real company names to make the invoices seem authentic. Make sure you inspect invoices thoroughly before you make a payment.
  • Compile a list of companies your business uses to help employees know which contacts are real and which aren’t.
  • Always verify that the organization you’re dealing with is legitimate before you take any other action.
  • Verify carefully email addresses and web domain names for any online payments.

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