A Georgia man has been charged with theft in connection with two incidents in which a false email account was used to divert more than $90,000 from a Monmouth County business to a personal bank account, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced.
The money was diverted from a Eatontown company Innovative Power Solutions. Investigators from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Eatontown Police Department charged Darryl Moss, 27, of Lawrenceville, GA with one count of second-degree theft by unlawful taking. If convicted, Moss faces up to 10 years in a New Jersey state prison.
A joint investigation by the two law enforcement agencies began in May 2019, after the Eatontown police received information regarding a business in borough that had fallen victim to an alleged business email compromise scam. A “business email compromise” scam is a type of internet fraud in which an “attacker” impersonates a business connection or interest and tricks a business or government entity into transferring money into an account which the “attacker” controls.
The owner of Innovative Power Solutions leased a building in the borough and regularly completed a wire transfer to the leasing company’s bank account to pay their monthly lease payment.
However, prior to the lease payment for the month of May 2019, the owner was victimized by a business email compromise. The victim received an email, which mirrored the legitimate monthly email the business received for its lease payment, but fraudulently provided a new bank account number for a different banking institution.
The victim believed the email was legitimate; and on May 2, 2019 the lease payments for April and May 2019 in the amount of $45,379.04, or a a total of $90,758.08, were wired to to the incorrect, fraudulent account.
Shortly thereafter, the victim was informed by the leasing company its payment was past due for April and May. The leasing company informed the business owner the fraudulent email did not come from their company and they did not receive the payment.
Investigative efforts by the Eatontown Police Department and detectives from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office analyzed the bank accounts in question and determined Moss was involved in the fraudulent acquisition and transfer of the monies.
To-date, law enforcement officers have been able to assist the victim in recovering roughly $70,000 of the stolen money.
“It’s important for corporations and agencies, whether in the private or public sector, to be vigilant with sending money to unknown sources or new banking institutions,” Prosecutor Gramiccioni said. “You cannot take anything for granted. Business email compromise scams are increasing and they are frighteningly good scams with terrifyingly bad results.”