Mattel briefly lost $3m to thieves in phishing scam

A Mattel executive was hit with a Chinese phishing scam, and it resulted in $3 million dollars being sent overseas, according to a source with knowledge of the matter. Neither the source nor the executive have been named, but the report claims the Mattel executive received an email seemingly from then-new company CEO Christopher Sinclair ordering a payment be made to a vendor in China.

The information comes from the Associated Press, which reports the email had been received during a rough time at Mattel, a time during which its former CEO had just been replaced by Sinclair and when, generally speaking, the company was releasing flops and losing money. That made the phishing scam a particularly harsh blow, and prompted the company to set out in search of the lost funds.

According to the report, the money had been sent to the Bank of Wenzhou, China, and by the time the scam was realized, the money was already gone. According to the source, whomever stole the money had done a bunch of surveillance on Mattel business practices, waiting for the time when Mattel was getting heavily involved in the Chinese market and submitting their request in such a way that it looked authentic.

The AP goes on to cite a letter from Mattel to Chinese law enforcement thanking them their quick work in launching an investigation into the matter. The thieves had planned for everything except one: their theft coincided with China's Labor Day, a banking holiday. The brief bank shutdown meant investigators had time to move.

A Mattel anti-fraud executive reportedly visited the bank's International Business Department the day it opened after the holiday, serving it with a letter from the FBI. Chinese law enforcement froze the account on the same day, and 48 hours later, Mattel reportedly had its $3 million back.

SOURCE: Associated Press