Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a growing problem for businesses
and their employees. In 2020, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center received almost 20,000 complaints of BEC — with losses of more than
What BEC Looks Like
In a BEC scam, a fraudster sends an email — from an address that
appears to be real — to someone in the target organization. In the
email, the scammer directs the recipient to send a large payment,
usually via wire transfer, to the fraudster's account.
How BEC works
BEC is effective because it's usually part of a long-term plan. Once
scammers identify a target organization, they typically:
Penetrate the company email system.
Study the operations and company hierarchy.
Learn about company procedures.
Familiarize themselves with travel plans of company executives.
How to Stop BEC
Educate your staff. Fraud techniques are continually evolving, so
security awareness training needs to be ongoing.
Review existing procedures. Consider new policies for approving
unexpected payments or wire transfers, such as requiring
confirmation for the transaction through some means other than
Use a code word. Establish a code word or security question that
must be answered before any transfer can take place.
Be skeptical. Train employees to be suspicious of any unplanned
transfers of money, wire transfers that must happen immediately, or
secret transactions. Legitimate business transactions can always wait
for appropriate verification.
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