Wealthy Mayfair art dealers hit by cyber attack costing them up to £1m

A group of wealthy Mayfair art dealers have been hit by a cyber attack which has lost them up £1 million to hackers.

At least nine galleries or individuals were affected, including Hauser &Wirth, and London-based dealers Simon Lee, Thomas Dane, Rosenfeld Porciniand Laura Bartlett - informed standard.co.uk.

The galleries lost sums between £10,000 and £1 million, accordingto Hallett Independent Art Insurance.

“We know a number of galleries that have been affected. The sums lost bythem or their clients range from £10,000 to £1m,” said insurance brokerAdam Prideaux of Hallett Independent, according to The Art Newspaper.

“I suspect the problem is a lot worse than we imagine.”

The galleries were hit by an email scam, in which hackers impersonatedtheir accounts and manipulated huge sums from art investors.

The method is simple. Fraudsters gained access to art dealers' emailaccount and monitored incoming and outgoing messages.

When the gallery then senta PDF invoice to a client via email after a sale,the hacker struck.

Using an impersonated email as coverthe hacker senta duplicate,fraudulent invoice from the identical gallery email address.

The client wastold to ignore the first invoiceand instead wire payment tothe hacker's bank account.

The technique wasalso used to steal payments made by galleries to theirartists.

London-based dealer Laura Bartlett was forced to close her gallery in eastLondon after a cyberattack on a high-value sale over the summer.

Both she and her US client have been unable to recover the money from theintercepted sale, though the theft is under ongoing investigation by the Metropolitan Police .

She told the Art Newspaper: “I didn’t have the financial security toweather this kind of scenario.”

“If it had happened at another time of year, when I’d had a better run, itmight have been OK, but this particular sale was going to pay a lot ofbills.”

Other London galleries have taken steps to prevent these forms of attackfrom happening again.

Mayfair gallery Simon Lee and Thomas Dane Gallery in St James's have bothoverhauled their invoicing procedures.

While Simon Lee's gallery allegedly only lost a small sum, art dealer Leenow issues a standard warning about cyber fraud with every invoice and hisaccountant confirms banking details with clients over the phone.

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