April 08, 2020

FBI warns of increased BEC scams

scammers"Fraudsters will take advantage of any opportunity to steal your money, personal information, or both. Right now, they are using the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic to further their efforts," the FBI warned in a release as it sees a rise in business email compromise (BEC) scams.

The FBI noted that municipalities purchasing personal protective equipment or other supplies needed to fight coronavirus have been increasingly targeted by these scams. It also shared two recent BEC fraud attempts:

  • A financial institution received an email allegedly from the CEO of a company, who had previously scheduled a transfer of $1 million, requesting that the transfer date be moved up and the recipient account be changed “due to the Coronavirus outbreak and quarantine processes and precautions.” The email address used by the fraudsters was almost identical to the CEO’s actual email address with only one letter changed.
  • A bank customer was emailed by someone claiming to be one of the customer’s clients in China. The client requested that all invoice payments be changed to a different bank because their regular bank accounts were inaccessible due to “Corona Virus audits.” The victim sent several wires to the new bank account for a significant loss before discovering the fraud.

The FBI outlined several red flags to be aware of in BEC fraud attempts, and how people can protect themselves and their assets.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has also warned financial institutions of emerging trends in illicit behavior.

NAFCU is a leader in calling for national data security standards and will continue to work diligently to equip credit unions with information and resources needed to protect themselves and members against all forms of banking fraud.