The FBI call this scam “Business Email Compromise” (BEC).
It’s when a scammer gets the email address of a senior member of a business and impersonates them in emails asking for money to be transferred to an outside account and it is a very common and sadly quite lucrative scam.
It is a rapidly rising scam and estimated to cost business some hundreds of millions of dollars last year.
The FBI report that the elderly, art galleries and collectors, and real estate purchasers have also found themselves targets over the last few years.
The FBI worked with law enforcement agencies from four continents to takedown a ring of cybercriminals responsible for a series of business e-mail compromise schemes. According to the Department of Justice, the scams led to $14 million in phony wire transfers.
The exercise was called Operation Wire Wire and resulted in the seizure of $2.4M, 42 arrests across the United States, 29 in Nigeria, and three in Canada, Mauritius and Poland.
The FBI thanked the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Toronto Police Service, the Mauritian Attorney-General and the Commissioner of Police, Polish Police Central Bureau of Investigation, Indonesian National Police Cyber Crimes Unit, and the Royal Malaysia Police, for assisting them in the operation.
23 of the U.S. arrests were made in the state of Florida where individuals reportedly laundered roughly $10M from BEC scams. Another scam in Connecticut resulted in the loss of $2.6 million.
For one attack the FBI enlisted the help of the IRS’ Criminal Investigation unit. Those arrested – a pair of Nigerian nationals living in Texas – allegedly sent a real estate closing attorney an email asking for $246,000 be wired to their account. The victim lost $130,000 after the bank was notified of the fraud and froze $116,000.
If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.