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Corporate Email Phishing Scams Result in $3.1B Loss, Near 1300% Increase in 18 Months

Total number of Business Email Compromise (BEC) related crimes have reached epidemic levels, at nearly $3.1 billion in losses and involving 22,143 victims worldwide since January 2015, according to a new FBI report.

BEC or Business Email Compromise is defined by FBI as “a sophisticated scam targeting businesses working with foreign suppliers and/or businesses that regularly perform wire transfer payments. The scam is carried out by compromising legitimate business email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to conduct unauthorized transfers of funds.”

Most victims, according to reports to FBI, “use wire transfers as a common method of transferring funds for business purposes; however, some victims report using checks as a common method of payment. The fraudsters will use the method most commonly associated with their victim’s normal business practices.”

The BEC scam continues to grow, evolve, and target businesses of all sizes the FBI reports. Since January 2015, there has been a 1,300% increase in identified exposed losses (i.e. Exposed dollar loss which includes actual and attempted loss in United States dollars.) The scam has been reported by victims in all 50 states and in 100 countries. Reports to FBI indicate fraudulent transfers have been sent to 79 countries with the majority going to Asian banks located within China and Hong Kong.

Characteristics of BEC Complaints

The IC3 has noted the following characteristics of BEC complaints

•  Businesses and associated personnel using open source email accounts are predominantly targeted.

•  Individuals responsible for handling wire transfers within a specific business are targeted.

•  Spoofed emails very closely mimic a legitimate email request.

•  Hacked emails often occur with a personal email account.

•  Fraudulent email requests for a wire transfer are well-worded, specific to the business being victimized, and do not raise suspicions to the legitimacy of the request.

•  The phrases “code to admin expenses” or “urgent wire transfer” were reported by victims in some of the fraudulent email requests.

•  The amount of the fraudulent wire transfer request is business-specific; therefore, dollar amounts requested are similar to normal business transaction amounts so as to not raise doubt.

•  Fraudulent emails received have coincided with business travel dates for executives whose emails were spoofed.

•  Victims report that IP addresses frequently trace back to free domain registrars.

The FBI recommends victims to always file a complaint regardless of dollar loss or timing of incident at www.IC3.gov.

By CircleID Reporter

CircleID’s internal staff reporting on news tips and developing stories. Do you have information the professional Internet community should be aware of? Contact us.

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