BEC: High-Dollar Wire Transfer Scams Extend to Private Citizens

According to multiple media reports, a New York Supreme Court Justice was defrauded of just over $1 million after responding to an email that was believed to have come from her real estate lawyer. The judge was in the process of selling her apartment and purchasing a new property in New York City when she received an email that purportedly requested funds as a part of those transactions; however, the email was spoofed and the funds were sent to a foreign bank account. While the largest losses from Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams have predominantly impacted businesses and governments organizations, private citizens must be aware of, and remain vigilant against, various email threats intended to defraud them of funds, obtain their credentials to access online banking accounts, or elicit personal information used to commit identity theft. Organizations of all sizes and across industries must also implement guidelines and processes to prevent their employees from falling victim to these scams. Earlier this month, Southern Oregon University reportedly fell for a BEC scam and lost $1.9 million that was earmarked for a construction project. The NJCCIC recommends organizations and private citizens take extra precautions when conducting wire transfers to verify the authenticity of the requestor by first contacting them over the phone to confirm their account details, as well as conducting additional online research on their identity. It is advisable for organizations who regularly conduct wire transfers to implement a multi-step approval process that requires the review of two or three employees before transfers are initiated. Victims of BEC scams who proceed in transferring money to criminals should report that crime to their local law enforcement agency as soon as possible.