In October 2013, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) began receiving complaints from businesses about trusted suppliers requesting wire transfers that ended up in banks overseas—and turned out to be bogus requests. Since then, losses from the business e-mail compromise (BEC) scam have been significant.
“For victims reporting a monetary loss to the IC3, the average individual loss is about $6,000,” said Ellen Oliveto, an FBI analyst assigned to the center. “The average loss to BEC victims is $130,000.” IC3 offers the following tips to businesses to avoid being victimized by the scam (a more detailed list of strategies is available at www.ic3.gov):
- Verify changes in vendor payment location and confirm requests for transfer of funds.
- Be wary of free, web-based e-mail accounts, which are more susceptible to being hacked.
- Be careful when posting financial and personnel information to social media and company websites.
- Regarding wire transfer payments, be suspicious of requests for secrecy or pressure to take action quickly.
- Consider financial security procedures that include a two-step verification process for wire transfer payments.
- Create intrusion detection system rules that flag e-mails with extensions that are similar to company e-mail but not exactly the same. For example, .co instead of .com.
- If possible, register all Internet domains that are slightly different than the actual company domain.
- Know the habits of your customers, including the reason, detail, and amount of payments. Beware of any significant changes.