News

Google and Facebook Lost $100 Million in a Major Scam

With digital scams on the rise, even the largest tech giants are getting swindled for vast sums of cash. An investigation by Fortune revealed that Facebook and Google were the victims of an elaborate email phishing scam that cost them $100 million over the course of two years.

The fraud was conducted by Evaldas Rimasauskas, a 48-year-old Lithuanian who fabricated email addresses, invoices, and other corporate materials to masquerade as Quanta Computer -- a hardware supplier based in Taiwan that often works with large tech companies. The incident was first reported last month, although the US Justice Department has refused to confirm which companies were targeted by the campaign.

But both companies independently confirmed their role in the ordeal, however, as a Facebook spokesperson wrote in a statement: “We recovered the bulk of the funds shortly after the incident and has been [sic] cooperating with law enforcement in its investigation.” Google, on the other hand, wrote earlier this week: "We detected this fraud against our vendor management team and promptly alerted the authorities. We recouped the funds and we're pleased this matter is resolved."

Rimasauskas is currently being detained in Lithuania, where he is awaiting the possibility of extradition to the United States. Over the course of the two year scam starting in 2013, Rimasauskas posed as Quanta, regularly engaging in multimillion dollar transactions with Facebook and Google accountants. He stored the spoils of his ploy in bank accounts throughout eastern Europe. Once both companies caught on to Rimasauskas’ growing paper-trail, however, they’d been defrauded for $100 million.

The Justice Department has still declined to comment outright on the identity of both companies, although it describes each with indicative clues. One is a "multinational technology company, specializing in Internet-related services and products," and the other is "a multinational corporation providing online social media and networking services." A personal familiar with the Justice Department's investigation confirmed to Fortune that the two multinationals involved are indeed Google and Facebook. 

Phishing scams range from the kind of standard fare you might see in your inbox, to eerily cunning and well-choreographed schemes that rake in millions of dollars. While they’ve been rising on the personal email front, it’s crazy to see how even massive corporations can fall victim to them as well. Keep your eyes peeled, and never trust a prince sliding into your DMs.

[Fortune via The Guardian

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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Vice. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster.