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Moviehouse boss Michael McAdam targeted in £19k email scam

By Laura Abernethy

Published 21/10/2015

Moviehouse Cinemas boss Michael McAdam
Moviehouse Cinemas boss Michael McAdam

The owner of Northern Ireland's largest cinema chain has warned businesses to be vigilant after he almost lost £19,000 in an email scam.

Moviehouse Cinemas boss Michael McAdam said that his bookkeeper received an email yesterday that seemed to be from him asking her to transfer £18,900 to another business urgently.

It was only when the online banking site timed out and the transaction did not go through that she phoned Mr McAdam and he realised they had almost been scammed.

He explained: "She called me and she said she was going to have to try again in 15 minutes but I wondered what she was talking about. Then I remembered the email scam."

He said that it was his name that appeared in the email but when his bookkeeper clicked on the message, it was not his email address.

The business owner has now warned others to be careful and to check any emails that come through in light of a recent incidents.

Last week, Co Down mum-of-two Amanda Jackson revealed that she had lost over £77,000 when she transferred it to an unknown account following an email from someone she thought was her solicitor.

The fraudsters intercepted a conversation between Ms Jackson and her solicitor and told her to forward the money for a house purchase to a different account.

Five weeks before the incident, the Law Society warned solicitors about a rise in these fraudulent emails and advised that they improve their security systems.

Mr McAdam said: "I don't know how they got my bookkeeper's name. They might have been intercepting emails but I don't understand how they got the right person. It seems to be the case that the systems are getting much more advanced and it's really frightening.

"We were lucky. It was an incredibly close call and it could have been bad for us. It would put a lot of stress on the employee in their job. That person would have to live with that as if they'd done something wrong when they thought they were following instructions. That's a horrible thing."

He said that this type of transaction is not unusual but the company will now be changing their policies to ensure this doesn't happen again.

"It was a request for money within a company. We're usually happy to just send an email about this but now we're saying the bookkeeper must phone me and check if it's legitimate. They need to make sure I've authorised it," he said.

"People need to double check their systems and don't think it can't happen to you."

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