Scams targeting businesses' inboxes, total $2.4 billion loss in 2021

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Email overload is costing businesses millions of dollars. This scam hits all big and small companies, even nonprofits.

It's known as the Business Email Compromise (BEC) scam.

This scheme targets the inboxes of employees who handle the financial decisions. The scammers typically gain access to a company's email accounts or spoof their email addresses to send what appears to be a legitimate bill.

The FBI recently arrested at least nine suspects in a BEC scheme.

"Oftentimes, there are so many people involved in a company and you know, they just don't know what other departments are purchasing or other services are being provided for another department within the organization. So they just pay it and they think, oh, it's taken care of," Alyssa Parker with the Better Business Bureau of Eastern NC said.

The invoice is typically paid through a wire transfer. By the time it's realized the bill was not legitimate, it's too late. The BBB found that the average loss involving wire transfers is $35,000.

To protect your and your company's money, change your settings so that all emails coming from an outside organization are flagged with a warning. You should also confirm payment requests by phone before acting. But if you do become a victim of email compromise fraud, immediately call the business's bank and report it to the FBI. Authorities say, if it's done within 48 hours, there is a chance the money could be recovered.

In total, the FBI said victims of email compromise schemes reported nearly $2.4 billion in losses in 2021 alone.
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