FBI Issues a Public Service Announcement Regarding Business E-mail Compromise

FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center

On January 22, 2015, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center issued a public service announcement regarding an email scam dubbed the Business Email Compromise (“BEC”). The announcement stated, in part, “BEC is a sophisticated scam targeting businesses working with foreign suppliers and/or businesses that regularly perform wire transfer payments.”  The FBI has received BEC complaint data from victims in every U.S. state and 45 countries, ranging from small to large businesses.  From October 1, 2013 to December 1, 2014, there have been:

  • Total U.S. victims: 1198
  • Total U.S. dollar loss: $179,755,367
  • Total non-U.S. victims: 928
  • Total non-U.S. dollar loss: $35,217,136
  • Combined victims: 2126
  • Combined dollar loss: $214,972,503

In addition, “The FBI assesses with high confidence the number of victims and the total dollar loss will continue to increase.”

One version of the scam occurs when “a business, which often has a long standing relationship with a supplier, is asked to wire funds for invoice payment to an alternate, fraudulent account. The request may be made via telephone, facsimile or e-mail. If an e-mail is received, the subject will spoof the e-mail request so it appears very similar to a legitimate account and would take very close scrutiny to determine it was fraudulent. Likewise, if a facsimile or telephone call is received, it will closely mimic a legitimate request.”

Click here for the complete FBI’s public service announcement.  The announcement provides characteristics of BEC complaints and suggestions for protecting your organization.

Brian Collins is an Audit Manager with over 10 years of public accounting experience. He performs audit, review, compilation, and tax services for a wide range of clients in various industries, including not-for-profits and automotive dealerships.

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