back to article World's most gullible supermarket chain falls victim to online scam

Red-faced accountants from one of the biggest supermarket chains in the US are frantically trying to regain control of more than $10m lost after falling victim to online fraudsters. Evidently, no one at Minnesota-based Supervalu bothered to confirm the authenticity of emails sent in late February. Purporting to come from two …


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  1. yeah, right.
    Paris Hilton


    It's a real pity that it's still completely legal to be an utter incompetent moron. Wow! My gast is flabbered.

    Was Paris involved?

  2. john Jones
    Thumb Up

    DKIM for identity anyone ?

    well they should maybe invest in DKIM for their email server maybe ?

    and tell their suppliers to do the same...

    its what paypal use to prevent fraud

    rather nice and prevents things like this

  3. Tampa Dave

    Competence: the greatest threat to job security.

    The trick to getting and keeping a job, is to make the ``executive'' look good. It's what they want; what they do.

    If you seem worth a shit, well... you're fired!

  4. Tom

    Incopentence as a crime....

    While being an incompetent moron is not punishable (yet), our lawmakers here in the US strive to allow these people to continue to exist. It is encouraging to know that lawyers have also gotten into the act. The lawyers will sue anyone other than the people actually responsible for the incident (hot coffee spilled?). So the problem continues.

    It has been suggested that we remove ALL the warning labels and let the awarding of Darwin awards begin. The sooner, the better.

  5. Daniel B.

    Dumb and Dumber

    Sooo ... it seems they will be able to get their money back... because the scammers were too stupid to withdraw the money on time!

    Of course, them falling for the scam without verifying is stupid, but even more stupid for the scammers to assume the transfers would go indefinitely to them. Providers *will* notice the sudden stop in the cash flow, triggering an inquiry to the client. Which will then notice "Gee, I did pay 10 million bucks to account X ... what? That's not your account??"

    And with those amounts, its bound to happen sooner than later.

  6. skeptical i

    incompetence hardly noteworthy

    Yahoo!'s stock performance chart for Supervalu (SVU) -- -- shows only a tiny dip around the time of the, um, incident. If stockholders don't care who's minding the store (or not), I guess I shouldn't either.

  7. matt

    Re: Incopentence as a crime....

    "It has been suggested that we remove ALL the warning labels and let the awarding of Darwin awards begin. The sooner, the better."

    Isn't that a quote from :)

  8. Crispin

    If they can't even spell...

    ..then they deserve all they get. 'Supervalu' indeed. Pah!

  9. Matt

    re: DKIM for identity anyone ?

    >its what paypal use to prevent fraud

    Hahahahaha! paypal ... *prevent* fraud! thats started my morning off with a good laugh.

  10. Simon Ball

    Oh, I don't know..

    Being a moron may not be a criminal offense. However, in business, it is a de facto civil offense - failing to exercise due dilligence in your stewardship of shareholders resources IS more than adequate grounds for a lawsuit.

  11. IanKRolfe

    Stupid scammers

    "even more stupid for the scammers to assume the transfers would go indefinitely to them."

    Perhaps they got scared when they saw the size of the payments - expecting thousands rather than millions - and decided to abort the scam (i.e. not run off with the money). Who would guess that a few months of Frito's would be that much money?

  12. Darrell

    Is no one asking the question

    why is Supervalu buying 10 million dollars worth of doritos and greeting cards a week!

  13. Joe Stalin

    Mr. T

    We need a Mr. T "Pity the Fool" Icon

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Dear Paris....


  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How it *should* work

    [posted as AC to protect the guilty]

    I work for a reseller/integrator. One of our sales support staff got an order for a couple of dozen laptops from one of our large customers with premises all over the country. But she noticed that the delivery address wasn't one she had seen before, and went back to the customer to ask when this new operation had been set up.

    Anyways, the customer had no record of the order. So a delivery was arranged to the new site, which turned out to be a Portakabin with a notice on it saying "<Customer Name> temporary training facility". Imagine the surprise of the would be scammers when they found the delivery van contained no laptops, but did contain Inspector Knacker and a contingent of his finest!

  16. Rob

    Sounds a bit like...

    ... the beancounters wanted a bonus and came up with this scam blaming it on "others" outside the organisation.

    Prehaps the Beancounters have been reading BOFH?

  17. laird cummings


    << "why is Supervalu buying 10 million dollars worth of doritos and greeting cards a week!" >>

    What part of 'supermarket chain' did you not get? This isn't a small mom-n-pop operation. Supervalu (crap name!) controls 2500+ food stores, nearly 900 in-store pharmacies, over a hundred fuel centers, and is primary distributor to another 2200 or so additional stores. I'm actually kind of surprised the dollar value of the scam is as small as it is.

  18. amanfromMars Silver badge

    @Oh, I don't know..

    "Being a moron may not be a criminal offense. However, in business, it is a de facto civil offense - failing to exercise due dilligence in your stewardship of shareholders resources IS more than adequate grounds for a lawsuit."


    Is it different if you work in/for/as a Bank? It appears to work quite differently with abject failure being immensely rewarding too. ........a ticking off, slap on the wrists and a golden goodbye present.

    Although they have gone strangely coy about his potential $159m pay-off.

    A lawsuit would be tantamount to spilling the beans on the Scam, Simon, although the longer that is resisted the worse will be the fall-out for the situation is steadily and surely getting worse as friends played for suckers settle accounts.

    There doesn't appear to be any radical free-thinkers sailing to their rescue which is real weird whenever a huge splash of vulgar cash to spend with salvage experts could so easily virtually save the sinking ship just by pump some new life into the old model. Dull and staid is no match for a feisty fawn full of Eastern Promise.

  19. Anonymous Coward


    ...I'm no supermarket chain, but *I* buy ten million dollars worth of Doritos a week. Explains my recent weight gain...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    In all seriousness

    Natural selection applies to corporate entities, too. The CFO, COO & CEO of that organization need to be held accountable (no pun intended) for this. Because, at least in my experience, corporations don't just terminate relationships with banks or switch accounts on a whim unless someone at the top advises the lackies to do so.

    sucks to be them

  21. J


    "It has been suggested that we remove ALL the warning labels and let the awarding of Darwin awards begin."

    And who said Darwin award contenders/winners read warning labels to begin with?

  22. Bob Barker


    "Attorneys for Supervalu, which owns the Albertsons chain, are arguing that the company should recover the full amount because it was a victim, has committed no wrongdoing, and has cooperated fully with investigators."

    That seems to suggest that they had to fight to get their money back. Was the US government intending to keep the money from the bank accounts???? Isnt any money recovered from a fraud cause sent right back to the original owners?

  23. the Jim bloke Silver badge


    You need to go home, the earthlings are getting to you.

    I think I have been able to read your recent half dozen posts and make sense of them.

    or is the old totemistic magic, El Reg has bound and neutralised your powers by invoking the Mars icon?

  24. Steve VanSlyck


    "Supervalu [is] arguing that the company should recover the full amount...." Get the money back from WHOM?

  25. Anonymous Coward


    Mad props for working "feisty fawn" into the post.

  26. Steve Sutton

    It has nothing to do with Darwin Awards......

    <xterm> The problem with America is stupidity. I'm not saying there should be a capital punishment for stupidity, but why don't we just take the safety labels off of everything and let the problem solve itself?

  27. Rolf Howarth

    Not necessarily THAT incompetent

    Ok, it's a little careless and they were clearly unlucky but you don't necessarily know all the facts. Fraud is fraud, and just because it was done by email doesn't make it any more the victim's fault. Supposing they'd received a similar fraudulent request by fax or on Frito Lay letterhead? Is that any more guarantee that it's genuine? Would they have been any more or less gullible?

    You seem to be assuming the email was of the anonymous 419 scam variety, full of typos and a request to wire it to Nairobi or somewhere, but for all you know it might have been an inside job. It could have claimed to come from their regular contact in the supplier's accounts payable dept, quoted the correct account and invoice numbers, etc., all of which could make the request seem very plausible.

    I regular both pay and receive payment based on invoices sent as a PDF by email without any particular security checks. I and my customers/suppliers are hardly alone in that. Are we all criminally gullible and negligent?


  28. Mark

    Hot coffee

    Well, the problem wasn't the person spilling hot coffee over themselves and getting burned but the purveyor of said coffee being told many many times "that coffee is too hot, someone will get hurt" and ignoring it.

    For McD, they didn't want to change because hot coffee cannot be tasted so it doesn't go off (and by the time it cools enough to taste, you're well out of the shop). So they made money from it.

  29. Hollerith

    More on hot coffee

    The McD coffee was unbeleivably, third-degree burns hot. They were serving out the drive-thru window, so they knew people didn't have full control, as they had to move their cars on. An elderly woman was the passenger and was given the cup, along with other items (a not-unexpected result of ordering food). A little clumsiness resulted in the coffee spilling. Normally it would be Oh! Ouch! Shit! and a lot of mopping up. But she was extremely badly burned and terribly scarred. The first court gave her a huge amount of money because McD had been given warnings and should have anticipated something like this, but the actual amount she received was severely reduced.

  30. Dana W


    My best friend from school's sister married into the Albertson/Supervalu family, and from everything I heard they are not long on brains. "She left with her children, a FAT alimony, and her own business"

    They went from being one of the biggest chains in the area to an also ran nobody even thinks of anymore. I can't even think offhand where one of their stores is anymore.

    Even Aldis beats them

  31. Ted Treen
    Gates Horns

    @Pity and Tom

    It will never be illegal to be either an incompetent or a moron, or even both.


    Just look at the lawmakers both here in the UK and in the US (and to be truthful, pretty much anywhere else) and you'll see why.

    For any government to legislate against moronic incompetence and stupidity would be pretty much like turkeys demanding all-year-round Christmas..

  32. Bob

    @More on hot coffee

    I like my coffee hot, not warm. When I get a cup in the morning I expect it to be to hot to spill on myself.

  33. Morely Dotes

    @ Hollerith

    "The McD coffee was unbeleivably, third-degree burns hot"

    You're right, I don't believe it. Boiling water/coffee is 212 degrees F or 100 C. Third-degree burns consist of charred skin and flesh, and would have to be caused by something considerably hotter, in the general neighborhood of 450F or more.

    And placing a styrofoam cup of coffee between one's thighs *is* Darwin Award material.

    Dont' you have some cards to punch or something?

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