Your BBB® has learned from an Internet Crime Complaint Center (ic3) Press Release of a “sophisticated scam” they are calling E-Mail Account Compromise (EAC). According to the Press Release, the scam targets “the general public and professionals associated with, but not limited to, financial and lending institutions, real estate companies, and law firms.”
Using social engineering or computer intrusion techniques, unsuspecting victims’ e-mail accounts are compromised. The criminal creates a spoofed e-mail account that looks very much like the real account but with a slight alteration of one of the characters. Then, according to the Press Release, the criminal uses the victim’s real e-mail account or the spoofed one to make unauthorized wire transfers.
The funds are sometimes directed to money mules in the U.S. or to accounts in financial institutions outside the U.S. Money mules, according to ic3 are people who are used to transfer and launder stolen money and are typically given a portion of the money transferred as payment. To make the transaction seem legitimate, the criminal calls the institution to confirm the transaction.
The ic3 has found that EAC money mules may be victims themselves, of employment scams, romance scams, or personal loan scams. According to the Press Release, between April 1, 2015 and June 30, 2015, 21 complaints related to the EAC scam were filed with losses of almost $700,000. Approximately $14 million in attempted losses are associated with open FBI EAC investigations.
The ic3 lists the following steps to take if you believe you have been victimized by this scam:
*Contact your financial institution immediately.
*Contact law enforcement.
*Request that your bank reach out to the financial institution where the fraudulent transfer was sent.
*File a complaint at ic3.gov regardless of dollar loss and identify that your complaint pertains to the EAC scam.
The ic3 also gives the following tips to protect yourself:
*Do not open e-mail messages or attachments from unknown individuals.
*Be cautious of clicking links within e-mails from unknown individuals.
*Be aware of small changes in e-mail addresses that mimic legitimate e-mail addresses.
*Question any changes to wire transfer instructions by contacting the associated parties through a known avenue.
*Have a dual step process in place for wire transfers. This can include verbal communication using a telephone number known by both parties.
*Know your customer. Be aware of your client’s typical wire transfer activity and question any variations.
For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org/evansville.
Posted 9/9/2015. While the BBB endeavors to provide accurate information to the public, changes in the law, facts or circumstances may have occurred since the foregoing was posted. The BBB recommends doing independent research and consulting professional advisors concerning a particular situation.