A business email compromise scheme occurs when cybercriminals trick someone into sending them a wire transfer – typically by posing as an intended recipient – or intercept a transfer in order to redirect its destination.
The FBI recently described how they “often involve the spoofing of a legitimate known email address or use of a nearly identical email address to communicate with a victim to redirect legitimate payments to a bank account controlled by fraudsters.”
Though known as “cyber-enabled financial fraud,” the scheme can, at times, also include phone calls.
It has become prevalent amid the novel coronavirus pandemic when people are eager to purchase supplies, such as personal protective equipment, and might not be paying attention to who is soliciting them or where the deal is coming from.
As concern surrounding COVID-19 continues, the FBI is urging the public to be cautious of deals in which:
- There is an “unexplained urgency to transfer funds” or sudden changes to set instructions for a wire transfer
- The potential buyer cannot verify with the product manufacturer that the seller is a legitimate distributor or vendor of the product, or otherwise verify the supply chain is legitimate
- The seller is unable to explain where the for-sale items are coming from
- Inability to explain how the supplies are available despite high demand during the pandemic
- The broker initiates contact or approaches you
- The seller or broker is not an entity with which the buyer has an existing business relationship, or the buyer’s existing business relationships are a matter of public record.