Nikkei hit by $29m transfer fraud

Japanese media giant Nikkei, which owns the Financial Times, has admitted it has been the victim of a $29m (£22.4m) money transfer fraud

In an announcement, the company said that in late September 2019, an employee of its US subsidiary transferred around $29m of Nikkei America funds based on what the company described as ‘fraudulent instructions by a malicious third party who purported to be a management executive of Nikkei’. 

The company realised shortly after the event that it is likely that it had been subject to a fraud, and Nikkei America has now retained lawyers to confirm the underlying facts and filed a damage report with the investigation authorities in the US and Hong Kong.

Nikkei said: ‘Currently, we are taking immediate measures to preserve and recover the funds that have been transferred, and taking measures to fully cooperate with the investigations. We are investigating and verifying the details of the facts and causes of this incident.’

Founded in 1876 Nikkei is an operating holding company with newspaper businesses as a core, specialising in the financial information market. It bought the Financial Times in 2015. Since 1950, the company has been responsible for calculating the Nikkei 225, a stock market index for the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Criminals impersonating members of a company and persuading employees to make transfers is a growing problem. In 2016, Bangladesh’s central bank suffered a cyber theft of $81m after scammers made a series of transactions via the New York Federal Reserve to accounts in Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Only some of the money has been recovered.

In the UK, figures from UK Finance suggest total losses from authorised push payment (APP) were £207.5m in the first half of 2019, compared to £345m lost to APP in the whole of 2018. There was an increase in the number of cases reported in every scam category, with purchase scams rising 65%. Cases of impersonation scams more than doubled, while the number of investment scam cases rose 152%.

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