FBI Phoenix
Jill McCabe
(623) 466-1844
April 4, 2016

FBI Warns of Dramatic Increase in Business E-Mail Scams

FBI officials are warning potential victims of a dramatic rise in the business e-mail compromise scam or “B.E.C.,” a scheme that targets businesses and has resulted in massive financial losses in Phoenix and other cities.

The schemers go to great lengths to spoof company e-mail or use social engineering to assume the identity of the CEO, a company attorney, or trusted vendor. They research employees who manage money and use language specific to the company they are targeting, then they request a wire fraud transfer using dollar amounts that lend legitimacy.

There are various versions of the scams. Victims range from large corporations to tech companies to small businesses to non-profit organizations. Many times, the fraud targets businesses that work with foreign suppliers or regularly perform wire transfer payments.

  • Law enforcement globally has received complaints from victims in every U.S. state and in at least 79 countries.
  • From October 2013 through February 2016, law enforcement received reports from 17,642 victims.
  • This amounted to more than $2.3 billion in losses.
  • Since January 2015, the FBI has seen a 270 percent increase in identified victims and exposed loss.
  • In Arizona the average loss per scam is between $25,000 and $75,000.

If your company has been victimized by a BEC scam:

  • Contact your financial institution immediately
  • Request that they contact the financial institution where the fraudulent transfer was sent
  • File a complaint—regardless of dollar loss—with the IC3.

Tips for Businesses:

  • Be wary of e-mail-only wire transfer requests and requests involving urgency
  • Pick up the phone and verify legitimate business partners.
  • Be cautious of mimicked e-mail addresses
  • Practice multi-level authentication.

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