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Thursday, 8 March 2018

"Faster payment" scam is not quite what it seems

I see a lot of "fake boss" fraud emails in my day job, but it's rare that I see them sent to my personal email address. These four emails all look like fake boss fraud emails, but there's something more going on here.

From:    Ravi [Redacted] <ravi@victimdomain.com>
Reply-To:    Ravi [Redacted] <ravi@victimdomain.com-3.eu>
To:    accounts@victimdomain.com
Date:    23 February 2018 at 12:02
Subject:    Arrange this payment

Pleаsе make а £9,627.00 faster раyment for thе nеw contrаctor.

Sort сode: 30-62-15
Acc. numbеr: 10255956
Paуeе: Olivia Hаrris

I will send the doсs as soon аs i'll sort out my stuff.
Lеаve a rерly oncе сomрlеted or in casе you get аnу рroblеm while sеtting it up.

Ravi [Redacted]

Sent from my iPhonе.


From:    Andrea [Redacted] <andrea@victimdomain.com>
Reply-To:    Andrea [Redacted] <andrea@victimdomain.com-0.eu>
To:    sarah@victimdomain.com
Date:    5 March 2018 at 10:31
Subject:    5 Mar. faster payment

Morning Sаrah

Plеаse sеtup a £9,736.00 fastеr рауmеnt in fаvour of the new bеnеfiсiаrу.

Sort code: 30-61-10
Acс. number: 10811231
Pауее: Thеa Smith

I will sеnd the doсs аs soon аs i'm lеss busу.
Leave a rерly once сomрletеd or if уou get аnу рroblеm whilе sеtting it uр.

Andreа [Redacted]

Sеnt from mу iPhone.


From:    Andrea [Redacted] <andrea@victimdomain.com>
Reply-To:    Andrea [Redacted] <andrea@victimdomain.com-v.eu>
To:    karen@victimdomain.com
Date:    7 March 2018 at 11:08
Subject:    Arrange this payment

Hi Karеn

I nеed you to аrrаnge а £8,643.00 fastеr рауmеnt for the nеw bеnеficiarу.

Sort code: 30-62-12
Acc. numbеr: 10240298
Benefiсiarу: Beatriсe Evans

I will sеnd thе doсumеnts as soon as i'm less busу.
Lеavе а rеply oncе donе or if you get аnу problem whilе sеtting it uр.

Andrеа [Redacted]

Sеnt from my iPhonе.


From:    Andrea [Redacted] <andrea@victimdomain.com>
Reply-To:    Andrea [Redacted] <andrea@victimdomain.com-v.eu>
To:    mary@victimdomain.com
Date:    8 March 2018 at 11:03
Subject:    8 Mar. faster payment

Hi Mаrу

I neеd уou to mаke a £8,839.00 faster раymеnt for the new supрlier.

Sort codе: 30-62-12
Acс. numbеr: 10738345
Benеficiаry: Emmа Brown

I will send the рapеrwork onсе i'll sort out mу stuff.
Lеаve а reрly once donе or if you gеt аny рroblem whilе setting it up.

Andrea [Redacted]

Sent from mу iPhone.

"Andrea" and "Ravi" are not random people, they are both directors of a legitimate company with a name very similar (but unconnected) with one I blogged about years ago. In $dayjob the sample email I saw was from that company's chief counsel, so I believe these are targeted but just incorrect.

Normally with this sort of scam, the "boss" is asking for payment to be wired to the bank details in the email. But in this case, the sort codes for the banks (30-62-12, 30-61-10 and 30-62-15) don't exist. If you tried to wire money to them, the transfer would fail.

So, presumably when the bank transfer fails, the victim emails back the "fake boss", but it isn't all it seems. Although the "From" address looks to be genuine, there's a "Reply-To" address which goes to something a but more subtle.

For example in one of the examples about the email appears to come from andrea@victimdomain.com (i.e. whatever the victim's genuine domain is) but replies go back to something similar but different, for example andrea@victimdomain.com-v.eu - at which point the fraudsters probably then come up with different bank account details.

At the moment the email replies go to a server at (hostname uk-v.eu) in the Netherlands, but these domains and servers get shut down quickly.

All these following domains are linked to the scam (there are probably more):

This variation of an old scam seems to be quite new. Remember, if your boss emails you out of the blue and asks you to set up a payment without giving much information, always check that the request is valid and don't simply reply to the email.

UPDATE 2018-03-12

Another version..

From:    Andrea [redacted] <andrea@victimdomain.com>
Reply-To:    Andrea [redacted] <andrea@victimdomain.com-w.eu>
To:    helen@victimdomain.com
Date:    12 March 2018 at 12:57
Subject:    Handle this payment

Hi Hеlеn

Pleasе makе a £8,909.00 fastеr payment for the nеw vеndor.

Sort сodе: 30-64-15
Acс. number: 10576602
Pаyeе: Elizabeth Moore

I will send the paperwork oncе i'll sort out mу stuff.
Lеave a rерlу whеn thе oреration is сomplеtе or in cаsе уou gеt аnу problеm whilе setting it up.

Andrеа [redacted]

Sеnt from my iPhone.
This uses the domain com-w.eu and is hosted on (hostname uk-w.eu) along with uk-b.eu.

UPDATE 2018-03-13

Two more examples with the same pattern:

From:    Ravi [redacted] <ravi@victimdomain.com>
Reply-To:    Ravi [redacted] <ravi@victimdomain.com-w.eu>
To:    keith@victimdomain.com
Date:    13 March 2018 at 09:52
Subject:    Payment due 13 mar.

Hi Keith

Plеase аrrange a £8,563.00 fаstеr paуment for the new benefiсiarу.

Sort code: 30-60-41
Acc. number: 10638574
Pауeе: Rosе Clarke

I will sеnd the pаperwork as soon аs i'm lеss busу.
Lеаvе а rеplу when the oрerаtion is сomрlеte or if уou gеt аny problem whilе setting it up.

Rаvi [redacted]

Sеnt from my iPhonе.


From:    Andrea [redacted] <andrea@victimdomain.com>
Reply-To:    Andrea [redacted] <andrea@victimdomain.com-w.eu>
To:    emma@victimdomain.com
Date:    13 March 2018 at 09:26
Subject:    Settle up this payment

Hi Emmа

Please mаkе a £8,999.00 fаstеr pаymеnt for the nеw benеfiсiаrу.

Sort codе: 30-60-41
Aсс. numbеr: 10167445
Bеnеficiаrу: Aisha Robinson

I will forward the docs onсe i'll sort out my stuff.
Lеаve a rеply once completed or in cаse уou get аny problеm while setting it uр.

Andreа [redacted]

Sеnt from mу iPhonе.

What I hadn't noticed before is that the spam is using homoglyphs in the text to avoid filters. For example, the word "pаymеnt" in the email above does not acutally say "payment", but it uses a couple of cyrillic (i.e. Russian) characters in place of the "a" and "e" that just look the same.

For the latest spam messages, the email relays through various hosts but always seems to originate from (hostname: lmasko22.example.com). As with the other infrastructure this belongs to a company called MoreneHost in Russia.