The Mattel toy giant was targeted on April 30, 2015 by a very elaborate phishing email that resulted in a transfer of 3 million dollars to scammers located in China. Thanks to a coordinated intervention by the local police authorities and the FBI and thanks to an annual closing day of the Bank of Wenzhou, the funds were finally able to be returned to Mattel.
Presidential fraud is on the rise. They most often consist of trapping the accounting department of a large company by telephone or email by pretending to be a member of the general management and requesting the urgent transfer of a large sum. Since 2011, the amount of damage suffered by this type of attack (also called whaling across the Atlantic) has been estimated at 350 million euros, having targeted very large accounts in France such as La Poste, Galeries Lafayette, Disneyland Paris or still the Caisse d’Epargne, the HSBC bank and even the Elysée…
In the United States, Mattel has paid the price, as shown by an investigation by The Associated Press. On April 30, 2015, when the group fired its former CEO Bryan Stockton and newly appointed Christopher Sinclair to this position, a financial manager for the American toy giant received an extremely well-crafted email, apparently sent by the new CEO of the group. Problem: the message is actually a phishing email, sent by Chinese scammers, asking to make a transfer of 3 million dollars to the Bank of Wenzhou, China.
The cooperative Chinese authorities
Unfortunately, the financial manager thinks she is doing well and makes this transfer of 3 million dollars. A few hours later, she spoke about it in person to the CEO, who then discovered the scam and immediately notified his bank, the police and the FBI. But too late, the money has already been transferred to China. Luckily, Friday May 1 is also a public holiday in China, which gave time to launch an investigation with the Chinese authorities who were able, according to sources familiar with the matter, to submit a letter on Monday May 4 signed by the FBI to denounce the deception. And on May 6, the $3 million was transferred back to Mattel’s bank account.