Table of Contents
- “Fighting the Business Email Compromise Threat” Article By Joe H. Dickerson, CFE
- West of the Pecos Casserole Recipe
- “Quotes for Life” By Joe H. Dickerson, CFE
- “Real Court Case Names”
- Buy “Diagnostic & Prescriptive Judgment Enforcement” Book By International Best Seller Author, Joe Dickerson, CFE,
- “What Clients Say” About Financial Forensic Services
FIGHTING THE BUSINESS EMAIL COMPROMISE THREAT
By: Joe H. Dickerson, CFE
On a pretty typical day, an accountant for a U.S. company received an email from her CEO requesting a transfer of funds for an acquisition. The CEO was out of the country on vacation at the time, but everything seemed to be in order: The follow-up email from the attorney included an appropriate letter of authorization and the CEO’s signature over their company seal.
So the accountant wired more than $737,000 to a bank in China. The next day, while discussing a different matter, the accountant casually mentioned that she’d completed the wire transfer as per the CEO’s instructions. Unfortunately, the CEO had no idea what she was talking about. As it turns out, they were victims of a fraudulent financial scheme called business email compromise, or BEC.
This BEC fraud is one of the most sophisticated scams ever seen, already costing businesses worldwide more than a billion dollars in actual and attempted losses. In the U.S. alone, total dollar losses across more than 7,000 companies have exceeded $740 million — and that’s only accounting for what’s been reported! What’s more, the business world has seen a 270 percent increase in BEC victims in 2015 so far over last year, including companies in all 50 states and nearly 80 countries internationally, with most of the fraudulent transfers wired to Chinese banks.
So who are the perpetrators of BEC fraud? Generally, they’re sophisticated organized crime groups based in Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. They specifically target businesses that regularly work with foreign suppliers, or that utilize wire transfer payments on a regular basis. By compromising legitimate business email accounts, the scammers can make such wire transfer requests appear authentic. All too often, businesses aren’t on the lookout for a scam occurring through the email account of their own executive.
It used to be that email scams were easy to spot. Remember the Nigerian lottery scam and other amateurish fraud attempts? Since then, the most sophisticated scammers do their homework and are using authentic email addresses, writing with proper grammar, and picking dollar amounts that sound legitimate in their fraud schemes.
In the case of the accountant we mentioned earlier, she later noticed that the email from the “CEO” was actually .co instead of .com — and that the attachment from the “lawyer” featured a forged signature and a company seal image taken from the company’s public website. The scammers had uncovered the email addresses through the company’s website, as well as the global media events the CEO would attend throughout the year.
Whether the scammers are able to hijack actual company emails or just mimic them closely, they invariably direct the fraudulent payments to their own accounts — sometimes switching a trusted bank number by only a single digit. Once the wire transfer is done, there’s only a very short window of time before the money is completely out of reach.
The best thing you can do in your company is be aware of the threat. Recognize that not all emails are what they seem, and watch for signs that something is amiss. You can’t control everyone else, but you can scrutinize any fund transfer requests and double- check with your boss before pulling the trigger on them.
If your business somehow ends up being victimized by a BEC scam, act quickly. You should contact your financial institution immediately and ask them to contact the financial institution where the fraudulent transfer was sent — then call local law enforcement and file a complaint with the IC3 (the Internet Crime Complaint Center). Their complaint referral form can be found on Google.
Copyright all rights reserved. Financial Forensic Services, LLC 2020 Brief quotation with attribution permitted.
QUOTES FOR LIFE
“Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” – Farrah Gray
“I must create a system or be enslaved by another mans.” – William Blake
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – R. Buckminster Fuller
“A peacock that rests on his feathers is just another turkey.” – Dolly Parton
REAL COURT CASE NAMES
- Batman v. Commissioner
- United States v. Forty Barrels and Twenty Kegs of Coca Cola
- The California Coalition of Undressed Performers v. Spearmint Rhino
- United States v. Forty-three Gallons of Whiskey
- One 1958 Plymouth Sedan v. Pennsylvania
- United States v. 200-Foot Reels of Super 8mm Film
- Death v. Graves
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