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Canadian university loses C$12m to phishing scam

[MONTREAL] A Canadian university said Friday it was swindled out of nearly C$12 million (S$13.12 million) in an online phishing scam that fooled staff into transferring funds into the wrong bank accounts.

Hackers posing as a construction company that provided services to MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta sent emails to school employees advising of changes to the company's banking information, said school spokesman David Beharry.

Before discovering the fraud last week, the school transferred C$11.8 million into the hackers' accounts, he said.

University officials realised something was wrong when the construction firm called to ask why it had not been paid for its work.

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Mr Beharry said more than a dozen construction firms in the Edmonton area had been targeted in the scam.

Working with authorities, the university was able to freeze C$11.4 million of the funds traced to three accounts in Montreal and Hong Kong.

But C$400,000 still remains unaccounted for.

The fraud was one of the largest of its kind in Canada, according to local media.

Mr Beharry said it "came down to human error".

AFP