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Watch Out For 3D Print Financial Scams

 [Image by Robinraj Premchand from Pixabay ] [Image by Robinraj Premchand from Pixabay ]

We received an unusual email today that we initially thought might be a scam.

The email from a notable 3D printer manufacturer suggests that the company has changed their banking information for their European subsidiary. The idea is that anyone needing to pay invoices to them would use the new banking information and avoid sending payments to the original, presumably closed account.

Suspicious Emails

At first I thought this was a little strange as we are not buying anything from this particular organization. However, on second thought we likely are on their mailing lists due to our press credentials and thus might conceivably receive such an email. You may have received this email as well.

On the other hand, we are based in North America, and not Europe, so there is no reason for such an email to come to us. That alone made me a bit suspicious of the email.

We received emails from others asking about this email and whether it is legitimate. Some automatically assumed it was a scam as they were not clients of this organization.

Typical Financial Fraud Email

It’s well known there are bad actors on the internets attempting to part you from your money. This type of email might appear to be such a venture. Here’s how it would work:

  • Bad Actor somehow obtains a company’s mailing lists

  • Bad Actor opens a new bank account

  • Bad Actor prepares fake documentation to make the new account appear to be owned by the real company

  • Bad Actor sends notice of banking change to the mailing list

  • Recipient receives notice that the banking information has changed

  • Recipient changes their database to now point to the new bank account

  • A new, legitimate invoice from the real company is received

  • Recipient pays the invoice by wire transfer to the new bank account

  • Bad Actor receives payment in the new account and quickly whisks it away to other accounts where it cannot be found

And this process repeats until someone figures out what’s going on and exposes the problem.

Legitimate Email

Is this specific email real? I reached out to the organization to see if the email is legitimate. I quickly received a reply from company officials stating that the email was indeed sent by them (or their European subsidiary, actually).

Thus this email was truly sent by this notable 3D printer manufacturer, as a normal part of their business operations. Companies do indeed change their banking information from time to time — and have to advise their clients of such a change.

Evidently the message was sent to a larger scope than required, raising suspicions among some. It’s entirely possible there are other recipients who are similarly confused. To them, I suggest confirming with the company directly.

Email Precautions

While this scenario turned out to be entirely harmless as the company did indeed change their banking credentials, the next email you receive from a 3D printing company may not be so.

I strongly recommend all 3D printing companies protect their email lists from unwanted exposure, as they can easily be leveraged in an evil manner by bad actors, and not only in this manner.

One common way for email lists to be exposed inadvertently is to use “CC:” instead of “BCC:” when sending a broadcast email. Any recipient then has the email addresses of all other recipients.

All 3D printing companies should also consider setting up mechanisms for handling such scenarios, as they are likely to increase in the future. One way might be set up a special email, like “fraud@company.com” to specifically handle enquiries and provide authoritative answers about potentially questionable communications.

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