Everyone who is currently using an email account should know what an email compromise scam is and why it affects you. It is also known as a BEC scam (Business Email Compromise) or EAC (Email Account Compromise). This is a sophisticated internet fraud scheme targeting those who work and communicate with foreign companies or contacts. Becoming a victim can be a real nightmare.
How does it work?
Both BEC and EAC scams typically involve one or more fraudsters who gain access to a legitimate email account and impersonate the account owner. The goal is to conduct unauthorized transfers of funds through someone else (the victim). While the victim is unaware of the impersonation, they proceed to authorize payments and transfers that their “boss” or “friend” requested via email, only to find out later that it was not really them who gave the order. By the time the victim finds out they were fooled, the scammers have already withdrawn the funds or they have moved the funds form one place to another, leaving no trace. Usually the scammers use not very reputable financial institutions, online casinos, or cryptocurrencies to make the money disappear.
Investigators at Wymoo International say email compromise scams are usually linked to other types of fraud, like romance and employment scams. Hence the importance of conducting international background check investigations to verify those who surround you or your company! The access to the legitimate email account is not necessarily a consequence of a hack. In most cases, fraudsters have been planning the attack and have targeted their victim since long ago. The scammers will use the internet to get close to the email account owner (dating apps and social media are the preferred methods) and they will try to gain access to personal private information or to the victim’s computer. With the email’s password in hand, they just need to get creative with their writing.
Why do people fall for this scam?
We communicate in great part through email. If your boss sends and email requesting an urgent payment to a supplier before the whole company operation is stopped, you would most likely proceed as soon as possible. If your traveling son or daughter asked for emergency funds because they are in trouble in a foreign country, you would send it as quick as possible. The matter with this kind of fraud is that the criminals are using a legitimate email account, so victims don’t stop to question themselves whether they should go ahead and proceed with the payment or not. They just do it! Sadly, not making sure it’s the right person and not following regular procedures can be very costly.
How bad is the situation with this kind of fraud?
According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center Annual Report, BEC fraud represented losses of over USD $675 million in 2017, making it the number one fraud by amount of losses and the 10th with most victims. Clearly, this is a serious and risking fraud risk that needs to be dealt with.
How to fight and avoid BEC/EAC scams?
The scheme is very planned, but simple at the same time. It doesn’t require of high technology, it only requires victims to be naïve or trusting. So how can you avoid being a victim? Do not share personal information online. You will be less of a target if criminals don’t stumble across all your work and life details online. Always hire a professional international investigator when dealing with someone new, whether it is personal or a work related contact, make sure they are who they claim to be and people you can trust. Lastly, be skeptical of any requests to transfer large sums of money, even if the request comes from someone you know. Make a call! Check with other people at work! Do not let yourself be fooled by the “urgency” of the matter and verify first it is a legitimate request.
If you have been communicating with someone via the internet and you are suspicious of their true identity or intentions, contact us today for a free and confidential quote.
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