LMI Group founder Professor Allan Manning has revealed his business has been targeted twice in the space of two days by thieves using very different modus operandi, with the first putting his life in danger.
The first involved a burglar breaking into the LMI Group’s Melbourne offices late on a Saturday night, triggering alarms and a visit by Professor Manning himself, who lives nearby, once he got the call from the alarm company.
The thief was still on the premises and despite being warned not to enter the building by police, Manning went into the offices ‘screaming and shouting’ while the police were still on the phone.
“Unbeknownst to me, the thief had picked up a dagger that had only been put on display the very day before in our office,” Manning later wrote on his blog.
“Fortunately, he dropped most things other than the dagger and whatever he had in his pockets as he ran for his life out of the building, right across the street, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on what mood I’m in, he avoided getting hit by all the cars on the busy street too.
“He ran past his own vehicle, hid in a lane way to compose himself and then calmly walked back to his car and drove off just as the police arrived.”
Manning said the thief got away with laptops and petty cash and a few smaller items such as a pen collection Manning and his son had amassed over many years.
He was thankful that no data was lost, that they had a list of all the serial numbers of the computers, and that due to a recent spate of break-ins in the area, they had taken photographs of the more valuable items in the office.
He also pointed out the considerable CCTV footage they could refer to which allowed them to see exactly what the burglar had taken.
“The event has also reinforced to all our claims team just how it feels to be a victim rather than going out and looking at claims and there is certainly an emotional stress that none of us should forget to the victims of loss or damage, particularly as a result of a violent robbery or fire,” Manning said.
The second incident two days later saw LMI Group fall victim to an email scam attack, using a technique which is becoming increasingly prevalent.
Manning was out of the office when the company’s financial controller received an email from an email account set with the name Allan Manning, asking them to process an urgent electronic transfer.
“The staff member was stressed because her office had been ransacked from the robbery just days prior, another staff member had emailed to resign and another in the department was on leave,” Manning said.
“All of this on top of business as usual with urgent requests for invoices to be raised etc. The controller did not carefully read the email but thought that the recipient of the funds was to be a lawyer and that the email was from me.”
The financial controller replied back saying she could process the transfer and another email came back detailing where it should be sent, following which she processed the payment.
The subject came up when Manning returned to the office shortly afterwards when they quickly realised they had fallen prey to a scam.
They immediately contacted the bank and managed to stop the payment.
With hindsight, a few giveaways became apparent, such as it coming from a gmail account without Manning’s usual footer, and it had the UK term LLC following the name of an Australian resident.
“I can say without reservation that the staff member would not have been caught but for the stressful conditions we were all working under at the time,” said Manning.
“The person is well educated and dedicated with a very high IQ. What this shows is that anyone can be caught and no matter how busy you are, you need to be on your ‘A game’ when it comes to cyber security.”
He added that in the 40 minutes the staff member was at the bank, five people came in distressed about being scammed by either email, LinkedIn, Facebook or by text message.
“Five people in under 40 minutes at just one branch of one bank is a terrifying statistic.
“We can all have the very best procedures in place but the biggest risk is people risk when it comes to cyber security."
Manning said he had seen claims for this sort of loss often not covered in many cyber policies, and that it was ‘time to remind all clients of this very real risk’.
He said while on the one hand he felt unlucky to have fallen prey to two such attacks, he then realised how much worse it could have been with both.
“I’m just so thankful that we dodged a second bullet only two days apart.”
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