Heads up… Telperion

May 21, 2018 | Rob, Telperion

Heads up… Telperion (almost) defrauded of £10,000 by great writing and accurate tone of voice “The MD didn’t write those mails to his staff. I know. I am the MD.” 

 

It was a curt e mail, pinged off from his iPad. The MD wrote to Geoff, the head of Finance, about a bill that needed paying asap. “How much does bank charges for charges on a faster payment?”. Even down to the grammatical mistake, it was just the sort of thing he sent. “HSBC charge £5 a shot Rob” said the FD… so the MD asked for an express payment of £9,900 to a new creditor called Oakleaf Ltd. The tone was unusually abrupt.

 

Perhaps a teensy bit nettled by that tone (after all, it wasn’t his fault), the head of finance said that it wasn’t down to him to process bank transactions, Deb normally did it. Exasperated, the MD sent a mail straight back a few seconds later saying that in that case he should “Kindly passthis to Deb, let me know once its done.”

 

So the FD, seething gently (after all the MD knewthis) sent Deb a mail. In her Somerset farmhouse kitchen, Deb the bookkeeper sighed inwardly. Picking up stroppy threads from the MD’s of the companies she handled was nothing new. So she logged in to Barclays to make the BACS transfer. Problem. There was only £9000 in the current account? She replied to the FD for what to do and copied in the MD. She copied him from her contacts book, not from the e mail thread. That’s when the balloon went up.

 

Because here’s the thing: Oakleaf is not a Telperion supplier, no payment of £9,900 was ever authorised, the MD doesn’t have an iPad, and he didn’t write any of those e mails to his staff. I know. I am the MD. And if you interrogate my name on the e mail header by clicking it then it comes up as <f34@inbox.lt>. Here are the three things that struck me:

 

  1. The money – most companies have a threshold at £10,000 which triggers more stringent sign off, so £9900 is savvy
  2. The voice – from the abrupt tone, to the’type faster than you talk’ mistakes to the “Sent from my iPad” sign off this was credible from the get go, a harrassed MD who’s forgotten a creditor
  3. The speed – this fraud had get done fast, before anyone noticed the false e mail. So rapid common-sensical, exasperated responses – pinging straight back and nettling the members of staff, were key

 

The net net? If we hadn’t just horsed out all the VAT money, the thieves would have the loot right now. If stealing things is ok for you, then these guys got almost everything right. We’ve reported it to the Police and put better policies in place – but every day’s a school day.

 

 

 

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