November 9, 2017

FBI Chicago Warns Area Business Owners of Business E-Mail Compromise Scam

FBI Chicago has important information for area business owners who find themselves the victim of a Business E-mail Compromise (BEC) scam.

This sophisticated financial fraud targets businesses of all types, especially those who regularly perform wire transfers. In addition to using spoofed e-mail accounts, the actors often compromise valid business e-mail accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to initiate wire transfers on the criminal’s behalf. Over the last two years, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has seen a 2,370% increase in actual and attempted BEC losses, affecting businesses in all 50 states and 131 countries. Since October 2013, those losses total well over $5 billion.

Graphic representing the business e-mail compromise (BEC) scam.

Tip #1: Know Who to Contact

Business owners who believe they have been caught up in a BEC scam should always contact their bank immediately. The next step is to contact law enforcement. Investigators say that deciding which law enforcement agency to contact in this situation can be confusing.

The FBI Chicago Field office is home to the Business E-mail Compromise Task Force for the Chicago area. This local task force is a joint effort between the FBI, United States Postal Inspection Service, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Chicago Police Department, US Treasury Department, US Homeland Security Investigations, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It was established in November 2016 to assist Chicago area businesses facing the BEC threat.

Tip #2: Know How to Make Contact

Sending an email to is the best and easiest way to contact the BEC task force. In your message, include the following:

  • Date of the incident
  • Summary of the incident
  • Victim name
  • Victim location (city, state)
  • Victim bank name
  • Victim bank account number
  • Beneficiary name
  • Beneficiary account number
  • Beneficiary bank location
  • Intermediary bank name
  • SWIFT/IBAN number
  • Date of transaction
  • Amount of transaction
  • Copies of e-mails, to include header information

Tip #3: Know When to Make Contact

Investigators say it is critical to contact law enforcement as soon as possible. In order to provide the best opportunity for the recovery of your funds, the BEC Task Force must be in a position to take action within in 72 hours of the money leaving your account via a wire transfer

Since its formation, the Chicago Area BEC Task Force has stopped millions of dollars in wire transfers from being completed by cyber criminals.