Illinois businesses and businesses around the country are losing billions of dollars to an email scam. Jessica Tharp of the Illinois Better Business Bureau says that Business Email Compromise scams, also known as CEO fraud, will phish information about a business and then target low level employees to send them money by mimicking the CEO via email or through voicemail using artificial intelligence technology and voice mimicking software.
Tharp says that the scammers will use a sense of urgency and ask the employee to purchase multiple Visa gift cards or ask them to draw out money to send for a fraudulent invoice or bill. She says they use the Visa pre-paid cards because once the information is given out, the use of them are untraceable. She says that orders of products, attorney impersonations, fake account compromises, and data theft are also a part of these schemes.
Victims are not limited to a certain business type: hackers are targeting medium and large corporations, small businesses, and not-for-profit organizations. Tharp says this is most likely to happen at larger businesses rather than smaller ones due to a lack of familiarity with supervisors in large corporate structures. Most often the main characteristics of the CEO scam is the victim’s business must work with foreign suppliers and/or regularly use wire transfer payments. The scammers rely on the “fear of the boss” mentality of low level workers. According to Fraud Watch International, the FBI has seen a 270% increase in identified victims and exposed loss to these type of scams. Tharp says education is the best plan of action. She says that having a chain of command for verifying purchases, as well as a verifiable process for all urgent issues will prevent the release to scammers.
If you believe your business has been hit by a BEC scam, contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center here within 48 hours.