Wrap Tite, a Solon, OH-based maker of packaging products and materials such as poly bags, tapes and stretch film used in wrapping pallets of good for shipping, has been scammed out of $500,000 by someone in China. The half-million dollar payment was wired to a Chinese bank to pay for a new stretch film extruder from Xinle Huabao Plastic Machinery Co. that Wrap Tite ordered last May, according to a report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in an article by journalist Adam Ferrise.
According to Ferrise's article, Wrap Tite visited Xinle Huabao Plastic Machinery Co. last May and subsequently wired a $200,000 down payment to the company through the Agricultural Bank of China. In January, the co-owners of Wrap Tite visited the Xinle Huabao factory to see the machine operate, and then agreed to send the remaining $500,000.
Wrap Tite sent an e-mail to Xinle Huabao requesting the bank transfer information, and received a return e-mail through Xinle Huabao's normal e-mail channel, with the bank information instructing Wrap Tite to wire the funds to China Merchants Bank. Wrap Tite wired the funds per those instructions on Jan. 15. Someone then intercepted the payment by hacking into the e-mail of Xinle Huabao Plastic Machinery, and confiscated the funds. By Feb. 18, Xinle Huabao never received the money.
Sunny Daga, co-owner of Wrap Tite, told the Plain Dealer that he has been talking with different agencies in China and has even requested help from the FBI, but so far "not much has happened" Daga told Ferrise.
Granted, this isn't just another Chinese business-gone-wrong story. We know from the recent business "hacking" stories in the U.S. news that hackers are getting into some of the biggest retailers in North America - Target, for example just to name one. Security experts believe that many cases of hacking are "inside" jobs by people who know these supposedly secure systems. But the big lesson for all of us is that nothing is safe or secure on the Internet.
Since the U.S. government ordered all medical records placed in Internet files rather than on paper in manila file folders in your doctor's office, in an effort keep your information "private" and "secure," there have been dozens of reports of people hacking into doctor's offices and hospital files confiscating patient information so they can get prescription drugs illegally.
Perhaps Daga should have called Xinle Huabao and asked them why they were using a different bank. Everything should raise a red flag in today's world. Question everything!
Theft and fraud is the new normal for all of us - but especially businesses need to be wary when it comes to the large sums of money that they wire for various reasons, no matter where in the world they're sending it.