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Grenville County OPP: “Spear Phishing” email scams affecting some residents’ business emails

Be careful if you see something suspicious in your work email’s inbox.

That’s a warning from the Grenville County OPP detachment, where officers say “Spear Phishing” scams targeting businesses and their employees are on the rise locally.

Acting Sergeant Erin Cranton says spear phishing or “business email compromise” scams often involve perpetrators impersonating victims’ bosses or business partners.

“The fraudsters take their time collecting information from various sources about their targets, to send convincing emails that appear to be from a trusted source,” Cranton explains. “The fraudsters will infiltrate or spoof a business or individual email account.”

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From there, Cranton says they’ll collect personal information from their targets, or instruct the people they email to install malware on their computers. 

Many make money by selling the information they get from these scams, but Cranton says they can be more direct. 

“It may look like a top executive sending an email to their accounts payable department requesting an urgent payment to close a private deal,” she explains. “If the fraudsters haven’t infiltrated the executive’s email account, they may set up a domain similar to the company’s and use the executive’s name on the account.”

Cranton says the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reported $58-million in losses from spear phishing scams in 2022, with $21.1-million in Ontario alone.

Cranton says employers should look into including fraud training as part of their onboarding process for new hires, be careful about the information shared on corporate social media pages, and regularly update computer and network security software to protect against attacks like this.

You can find more information on scams like this by visiting the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s website.

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