Email hackers steal $500K from Troy business

A local business loses hundreds of thousands of dollars to online hackers.  But this wasn't your average "phishing" scheme - an unsuspecting employee fell victim to the scam.

When it comes to email scams the criminals are usually phishing - they send a wide net of emails to random people and hope that someone takes the bait. Police say this case is far more sophisticated and it costs their target half a million dollars.

If your work involves the internet, you have probably heard the warnings - don't click the link, if you don't trust the sender and don't send money if you are promised more in return. 

"They will send 10,000 emails out there claiming to be someone else," said Dwain Watkins, a cyber-security advisor.

Dwain Watkins used to look for these types of scams for a living.

"I have a lot of expertise," he said. "We did a lot of phishing, a lot of cyber security."

But even he's never heard of this one.  Police say an employee at a Troy-based company, Pomeroy Investment Corporation, which handles money for a living, was not only specifically targeted - but hackers got a hold of the company's corporate email.

The hackers pretended to be the president requesting a money transfer.  About  $500,000 was wired from the company to a bank in Hong Kong. Police say the employee thought it was a legitimate request.

"They sent it out hoping that someone gets excited or in this case gets nervous, and that's how they get information," Watkins said.

Weeks later police say the fraud was uncovered.  Experts like Watkins say once you click the send button it's virtually impossible to undo the damage - and it's even harder to track down the criminals.
For people not working with that amount of money, it's more likely they will be targeted with a more standard scam. Watkins say you can find reliable tips by visiting the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team at

"They have tons of resources when you are looking for internet or social media security," Watkins said. "It can take a novice person and teach them everything they need to know about internet security."

FOX 2 stopped by the firm's Troy location but were told they had no comment on this report.