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Would Your Employees Notice $8 Million in Fraud?

Would Your Employees Notice $8 Million in Fraud?

April 2023 Newsletter - If you’d like to read this newsletter at the same time as our subscribers, please sign up here.

Would Your Employees Notice $8 Million in Fraud?

A massive familiar fraud scam, also known as an internal fraud scam, netted more than $8 million over 8 years for the Assistant Chief Engineer of train operator Keolis and an accomplice. The employee was able to steal $1 million per year for 8 years before internal audits raised suspicions.

I encourage you to read this story and ask if your employees could recognize and intervene in this type of fraud. Nothing the employee did was sophisticated, and much of it should have raised red flags. One aspect of the scam saw large quantities of copper wire delivered to the employee’s home address. He then sold the wire to scrap dealers and pocketed the money.

Employee awareness and training could have stopped this theft when it began. The same training that teaches employees to recognize cyber threats is equally effective at catching familiar fraud. In this case, someone should have been reviewing invoices, known that materials were shipped to an employee’s home and flagged that activity as unusual. Would your employees be able to do this? Are they educated and empowered to challenge activity they consider suspicious? Do they take your cyber and business security personally?

The only difference between a cyber attack and familiar fraud is the perpetrator. Familiar fraud can be harder to detect, because the criminal knows their way around your operations and may be able to cover their tracks. There is also the unpleasant reality of a trusted individual stealing from you. No matter where the threat originates, training employees to trust their gut and report anything that seems unusual will stop theft that can lead to millions in losses.

BREAKING: “Jack the Dripper” Exposes Additional Risks to Sensitive Information

By now you have certainly heard about Jack Teixeira, the 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guard member who shared top secret U.S. intelligence online that he obtained through his work as a Cyber Transport Systems Journeyman. Teixeira was granted top secret clearance out of necessity, as someone who had to keep devices running so they could transmit and receive sensitive information.

In the civilian world, this is the equivalent of a low-level IT staffer swiping business plans, customer lists or personal information and posting it online. In Teixeira’s case, he appears to have done this to win the friendship of people he met on the online chat platform Discord and not for profit or politics.

The methods used to gather this information, as noted in Teixeira’s arrest warrant, were unsophisticated. Teixeira began by transcribing files that he saw at work, then gained the confidence to print them out, bring them hone and photograph them, leading to a significant breach of U.S. national security that potentially compromised individuals and methods used in intelligence gathering.

Teixeira had to bring documents home to photograph them because protocols banned smart phones at his workplace. In a less-secure environment, employees could simply photograph information on a screen for distribution. As the arrest warrant notes, Teixeira shifted from transcribing sensitive documents to printing them because he was afraid he would get caught and wanted a faster way to capture the information.

Federal investigators were able to track Teixeira’s activity once they identified him as a suspect, but by that point the damage had been done.

This case raises questions that every private enterprise needs to ask: Who do you trust with sensitive information, how do you monitor what those individuals access and how would you know if your business and customer information was circulating online? The answer lies in training employees to recognize unusual activity, and in having a plan to investigate things that appear unusual.

Stat of the Month


The amount of money lost to imposters, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Defined as people who fraudulently claim an affiliation with a well-known company, business imposters have taken an increasing bite out of unwary companies, with fraud rising from $196,000,000 in 2020 to $660,000,000 in 2022, an increase of 237% over those 3 years.

In December, we discussed one form of this fraud after 3 Federal agencies issued a joint warning on Business Email Compromise scams. Like many forms of fraud, email compromise scams are just sophisticated enough to fool the unwary, but easy to prevent if you have alert employees looking for unusual activity.

CSI Protection Combats Familiar Fraud

Protect Now’s Cyber, Social and Identity (CSI) Protection Certification is an effective tool to prevent all threats, including external cyber attacks and internal fraud. To keep pace with the threats to your business, you must empower your employees to trust their instincts when they think something is wrong and to report their suspicions for meaningful follow-up.

CSI Protection Certification turns your employees into vigilant security warriors by helping them understand their personal relationship with security and fraud. Eligible for real estate CE credits in many states, this program, available in-person, remotely or via eLearning, is a results-oriented solution for all businesses that must protect against fraud while managing customer relationships.

Contact us online to learn why our program delivers real change, or call us at 1-800-658-8311.

Keep ChatGPT Out of Your Systems

With a record rise to 100 million users in just 4 months, ChatGPT has become a predictable target for sophisticated hackers. The danger does not lie in the software itself, but in the ways it can access information.

Some organizations have begun opening their networks to ChatGPT through APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that allow the software to directly access organizational data. Hackers are taking advantage of this by developing APIs with vulnerabilities they can exploit, allowing them to steal data as it moves between an organization and ChatGPT.

This is a new front in the fight against cyber criminals and the extent of the damage insecure APIs can do is unknown, though one case involved a known exploit that can compromise root passwords, potentially leaving servers vulnerable data exfiltration and ransomware attacks.

Organizations interested in sharing their data with ChatGPT should be aware that this is an entirely new domain for developers. The best course of action is to wait until established companies with a proven track record of strong security develop plugins and APIs that can be trusted, or to employ a developer with a deep understanding of cyber security risks and vulnerabilities to build connections between your systems and ChatGPT.

CSI Protection Certification – Now at RE/MAX University®

Protect Now is proud to announce a partnership with RE/MAX LLC, a global real estate franchisor with more than 140,000 agents in almost 9,000 offices, to provide Cyber Social Identity (CSI) and Personal Protection Certification to RE/MAX University®, an exclusive learning hub designed to help each agent level-up their professional expertise.

Through this partnership, RE/MAX agents will have online access to CSI Protection Certification eLearning modules covering cyber security, identity protection and social media security, as well as personal protection. This eLearning program allows agents to learn at their own pace while gaining access to additional resources they can use to improve online and personal security.

We developed our eLearning program for small businesses, individuals and organizations that want a self-directed solution for their employees. Visit Protect Now to take a free sample class and learn more about the ways we make our employee training programs easy and affordable for anyone to access.

As this month’s newsletter reveals, a criminal threat to your organization can be in an office down the hall. Familiar fraud and insider threats are the greatest security challenges, because they force us to treat people we know and should trust as if they are criminals. When cyber criminals strike, we can say we let our guard down. When someone on the inside steals data, we blame ourselves and ask how we could have missed the warning signs.

The cyber security employee training program I developed for Protect Now is part of the solution. In most cases of theft and fraud, criminal activity is exposed because someone sees something and says something. Every business owner needs to ask, honestly, if their employees are empowered to report unusual activity, as this is the best way to prevent every type of fraud.

Stay safe out there,

Robert & the Protect Now Team

CALL US: (800) 658-8311