Business email compromise (BEC)—also known as email account compromise (EAC)—is one of the most financially damaging online crimes. It exploits the fact that so many of us rely on email to conduct business—both personal and professional.
In a BEC scam, criminals send an email message that appears to come from a known source making a legitimate request, like in these examples:
- A vendor your company regularly deals with sends an invoice with an updated mailing address.
- A company CEO asks her assistant to purchase dozens of gift cards to send out as employee rewards. She asks for the serial numbers so she can email them out right away.
- A homebuyer receives a message from his title company with instructions on how to wire his down payment.
Versions of these scenarios happened to real victims. All the messages were fake. And in each case, thousands—or even hundreds of thousands—of dollars were sent to criminals instead.
A scammer might:
- Spoof an email account or website. Slight variations on legitimate addresses (email@example.com vs. firstname.lastname@example.org) fool victims into thinking fake accounts are authentic.
- Send spearphishing emails. These messages look like they’re from a trusted sender to trick victims into revealing confidential information. That information lets criminals access company accounts, calendars, and data that gives them the details they need to carry out the BEC schemes.
- Use malware. Malicious software can infiltrate company networks and gain access to legitimate email threads about billing and invoices. That information is used to time requests or send messages so accountants or financial officers don’t question payment requests. Malware also lets criminals gain undetected access to a victim’s data, including passwords and financial account information.
If you or your company fall victim to a BEC scam, it’s important to act quickly:
Public Service Announcements from IC3
02.16.2022 Business E-mail Compromise: Virtual Meeting Platforms
Between 2019 and 2021, the FBI IC3 has received an increase of BEC complaints involving the use of virtual meeting platforms.
04.06.2020 Cyber Criminals Conduct Business Email Compromise Through Exploitation of Cloud-Based Email Services, Costing U.S. Businesses More Than $2 Billion
Cyber criminals are targeting organizations that use popular cloud-based email services to conduct BEC scams.
09.10.2019 Business Email Compromise: The $26 Billion Scam
Business email compromise/email account compromise is a sophisticated scam that targets both businesses and individuals who perform legitimate transfer-of-funds requests.
Related FBI News and Multimedia
Charles Singleton of Los Angeles, California, has been indicted for laundering money obtained from business email compromises.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced charges today against 10 defendants in multiple states in connection with multiple business email compromise schemes.
This report summarizes the primary efforts of the FBI in combatting the BEC threat and its related scams.
Elvis Eghosa Ogiekpolor of Georgia has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
A United Kingdom citizen pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, after being extradited from the United Kingdom at the request of the United States.
Mustapha Raji was found guilty for his participation in a $1.7 million business email compromise and money-laundering scheme that targeted a hedge fund.
Three Nigerian citizens were extradited from the UK to the U.S. in relation to their alleged participation in multi-million-dollar cyber BEC fraud schemes.
Timothy Scott Marable of Florida has been arrested for his role in a business email compromise scheme that impacted at least four businesses in four different states.
Chibundu Joseph Anuebunwa of Nigeria was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud in a multi-million-dollar business email compromise campaign.
The FBI Phoenix Field Office is warning the public about an increase in business email compromise (BEC)—also known as email account compromise (EAC) fraud.