TOKYO – Japan Airlines lost 384 million yen ($3.4 million) when it failed to verify hoax emails and paid fees for leasing airplanes and other services into fraudulent accounts, the airline said on Thursday.
A JAL spokesperson told EFE that the airline received fake invoices and transferred payments toward aircraft leasing fees and cargo commissions into an unauthorized bank account in Hong Kong.
The Japanese Airlines leases a Boeing 777-300ER through a foreign financial firm, whose identity was stolen by unknown criminals to demand a payment of 360 million yen as leasing fee, which JAL deposited in the given account on Nov. 29.
Another company – hired by JAL to manage its cargo division in the United States – had made two payments on Aug. 27 and Sept. 7, worth 24 million yen, after receiving a similar email pretending to be from their logistics partner in the US, the spokesperson said.
JAL did not detect the fraud until it received email reminders about the payments, although the amounts were withdrawn from their account soon after the transactions, the company said.
The airline has asked Hong Kong authorities for help in tracing the payments but did not give more details to avoid interfering in the investigations by the Japanese police and the FBI.
The JAL employee who processed the fake emails did not doubt their authenticity because the emails were signed by the official they normally communicated with, state news agency NHK reported.