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Watch For Scams Newsletter. Business Email Compromise
July 08, 2014

Business Email Compromise

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Business Email Compromise

We been receiving complaints from businesses that were contacted fraudulently via legitimate suppliers’ e-mail accounts. Recipients were asked to change the wire transfer payment of invoices. Businesses became aware of the scheme after the legitimate supplier delivered the merchandise and requested payment. This scam has been referred to as the “business e-mail compromise.”

A twist to this scam that is being reported relates to the spoofed business e-mail accounts requesting unauthorized wire transfers. In the scheme, a business partner, usually chief technology officers, chief financial officers, or comptrollers, receives an e-mail via their business accounts supposedly from a vendor requesting a wire transfer to a designated bank account. The e-mails are spoofed by adding, removing, or subtly changing characters in the e-mail address that make it difficult to identify the perpetrator’s e-mail address from the legitimate address.

The scheme is usually not detected until the company’s internal fraud detections alert victims to the request or company executives talk to each other to verify the transfer was made.

The average dollar loss per victim is approximately $55,000. However, the IC3 has received complaints reporting losses that exceed $800,000.

There have been complaints from companies that were alerted by their suppliers about spoofed e-mails received using the company’s name to request quotes and/or orders for supplies and goods. These spoofed e-mails were sent to multiple suppliers at the same time. In some cases, the e-mails could be linked by Internet Protocol (IP) address to the original business e-mail compromise scams.

Because this latest twist is relatively new, the dollar loss has not been significant. Also, victim companies have a greater chance of discovering the scheme because the e-mails go to multiple suppliers that often follow-up with the company.

Based on analysis of the complaints, the scam appears to be Nigerian-based. Complaints filed contain little information about the perpetrators. However, subject information that was provided has linked to names, telephone numbers, IP addresses and bank accounts reported in previous complaints, which were tied over the years to traditional Nigerian scams.

Some commonalities found among the complaints include:

1. Victims are generally from the United States, England and Canada, although there have been complaints from other countries such as Belgium

2. Victim businesses often trade internationally, usually through China

3. Victim businesses that conduct high-dollar wire transfers, so requests for larger monetary amounts are not uncommon

If you believe you have been a victim of this type of scam you should promptly report it to the IC3's website at The IC3's complaint database links complaints together to refer them to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration.

Remember - always watch for scams!


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