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 (firstname.lastname@example.org vs. email@example.com) 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
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.
Pierre Yvelt Almonor of Miami Gardens has been convicted for his role in a conspiracy to launder illegal proceeds from a business email compromise scheme.
The FBI Las Vegas Field Office is providing information on Business Email Compromise (BEC), a cyber scam targeting businesses that regularly conduct wire transfers.
Operation Eagle Sweep targeted BEC scammers believed to be responsible for victimizing at least 500 people in the United States.
Victor Ahaiwe was sentenced to 84 months in prison for participating in a million-dollar conspiracy to launder the proceeds of business email compromise frauds.
Dejan Medic pleaded guilty to participating in a business email compromise scheme that stole more than $3.7 million from 15 victim companies in the U.S. and Europe.
Eric Bullard of California pleaded guilty to laundering money from fraudulently obtained SBA loans and from a law firm that was the victim of a business email compromise.
A federal district judge sentenced Jimpcy One, Frantz Guillaume, Jr., and Gousman Lemy to prison terms for conspiring to launder proceeds from BEC schemes and fraudulently obtained COVID-19 loans.
If you’re doing online shopping this holiday season, be on the lookout for scammers trying to steal a deal.