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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Conde-Nast magazine empire phished for $8 million

From Kim Zetter @

A swindler posing as a legitimate printing company phished no less than eight million dollars from Conde-Nast, publishers of high profile magazines of the like of Wired Magazine, Vogue, The New Yorker, and Glamour. He didn't succeed in withdrawing the money before federal authorities got wind of it, acted fast, and froze the funds, but it is an object lesson on how easy it is to lose a few million bucks.

According to a court document filed by the US Attorney's Office on March 30, in Manhattan, last November the accounts department received an e-mail purporting to come from Quad/Graphics, the company that prints their magazines.  The person who received it didn't notice that the account was, in fact, for Quad Graph, the name the scammer -- a man named Andy Surface -- had set up at a branch of BBVA Compass Bank in Alvin, Texas.

A company representative signed the electronic payments authorization form that was attached, and lo, money started flowing into the account number provided in the e-mail.  Between November 17 and December 30, the company wired $8 million to the account, before a query arrived from the real printer, Quad/Graphics, asking why bills were not being paid.

Surface has apparently been charged before, with "terroristic threat of family/household."

So far, the US Attorney's Office has made no comment.

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