How Typosquatting Cost a Dutch Municipality €236,000

Estimated read time 2 min read

Ever wondered how a small mistake could lead to a big financial loss? Don’t you think it can’t happen in your town or city? Unfortunately, even a city government isn’t immune to such threats. In the Netherlands, the municipality of Alkmaar recently found itself on the losing end of a €236,000 CEO fraud scheme.

This again shows how technological defenses can sometimes crumble under the simplest of human errors.

Last week, the Alkmaar municipality in the Netherlands announced it had fallen victim to CEO fraud. The criminals succeeded in duping the city into transferring €236,000 by sending a fraudulent invoice. According to Christian Schouten, the finance councilor in Alkmaar1, the fraudsters knew precisely who to target for their scheme to work.

The criminals didn’t rely on elaborate hacking skills but used a tactic known as typosquatting. They created an email address that closely resembled the municipal director’s official email.

Because of this resemblance, the employees were tricked into thinking the invoice was legitimate and proceeded to make the payment. Ouch.

Schouten also revealed that despite earlier unsuccessful attempts by fraudsters, this one managed to slip through the cracks. “We’re human, not robots. Despite training, things can go wrong,” he said, expressing empathy for the employees who made the error.

So, what’s the takeaway? You can believe that this could be a pivotal moment for municipalities and organizations to reassess their cybersecurity protocols. The Alkmaar incident proves that awareness and constant vigilance are as crucial as technological defenses in the ongoing battle against cybercrime.

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Reza Rafati

Reza Rafati, based in the Netherlands, is the founder of An industry professional providing insightful commentary on infosec, cybercrime, cyberwar, and threat intelligence, Reza dedicates his work to bolster digital defenses and promote cyber awareness.

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