Scammers are Going Back to Basics to Catch the Unsuspecting

Online scam cases have been on an exponential rise in recent times. They are getting more sophisticated by the day, using social engineering in their…

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Written by yichengchen

Online scam cases have been on an exponential rise in recent times. They are getting more sophisticated by the day, using social engineering in their efforts to send high quality phishing emails. For instance, using platforms such as LinkedIn or RocketReach to understand your company’s structure so as to name-drop and to target their phishing emails with precision. These days, online scams are gaining a lot of traction on the mobile device itself as well.

Being a global HR service provider, serving clients and staff members across more than 80 active countries, transacting millions of dollars, makes us, Marco Global Payroll, an ideal target. We had most recently received a physical letter by post from this organisation claiming to be “World Organization Intellectual Property”. The letter looked as legitimate as it could be and it asked for a payment for trade mark application. Indeed, we had most recently applied for our trademark to be protected in the EU. The letter had the correct (1) logo, (2) application filing date, (3) application filing number and (4) date of publication!  

However, at first glance something felt amiss. Our legal team rightfully pointed out that trademarks are considered inherently distinctive and therefore required to be registered in different jurisdictions. As such, there is no one single international “trademark organisation” with global jurisdiction and authority.

Indeed, the purported organisation does not exist. It sounds very similar to an United Nation agency “World Intellectual Property Organization” but there is no such organisation “World Organization Intellectual Property”. A closer examination at the payment details raised further red flags. The SWIFT code provided leads us to a bank in Kazakhstan – a unlikely location of choice for the “World Organization Intellectual Property” if it exists.

We have made appropriate reports to the relevant authorities, and we feel that it is important for us to share this timely article with all of our fellow partners in this fast-growing industry of global workforce engagement. At Marco, we take security very seriously and we have adopted the highest compliance standards including, but not limited to, using only Microsoft E5-compliant enterprise solutions, satisfying the Australian Cyber Essential Eight requirements, using only secured data transmission on TLS1.3/HTTPS or SSL/HTTPS, and encrypting and backing-up all platform data daily and having our backend data infrastructure to be ISO 27001, ISO 9001, and SOC 2 certified.