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Scammers Convinced Erie Employee to Wire Million Dollars

Small Town Reeling After BEC Scammers Get Employee to Wire $1M

Would you fall for this scam that cost a small town $1M? Find out what a BEC scam is, how it works, and what you can do to keep your company from falling victim.

What would you do if you found out your employee just cost you a million dollars? We’ll just guess they probably wouldn’t stay working for you much longer.

The little town of Erie, Colorado, was recently faced with this scenario. Hackers used a Business Email Compromise (BEC) scam to deplete the town’s savings.

Don’t know what a BEC scam is? You should. Here’s what you need to know

Business Email Compromise

What Is a BEC Scam & How Does It Work?

BEC scams are targeted and sinister. In this scam, a hacker gains access to the business email someone in C-suite, or of similar power.

Once inside, they monitor the account to determine who among your staff they should target from that account for financial gain. Once they’ve identified the person who holds the purse strings, they send that person an email from your account with instructions to wire money somewhere.

If the person who receives the email is suspicious, hackers don’t want their cover blown. So they may also mess with your email rules so that any emails received with words like “scam”, “is this a joke” or “please verify” in them automatically get deleted.

They may target several people to see who takes the bait. And the scammers use the principle of social engineering to convince people to comply.

In the case of the Erie BEC scam, the criminals were able to find a real account payable and request that the employee change where the payment was sent.

This gave legitimacy to the request that reduced suspicion.

How Do Hackers Get Access to Your Email?

The most common way to hack your email is through a phishing email scam. The fraudster may send an email to you that looks like it’s from your email service provider. They then trick you into giving up your password by having you log into a spoofed website or download malicious key-tracking software.

If your business email is through Microsoft, Google or another company with many product lines that use a single password, they can get it in a roundabout way, further lowering your guard.

If you don’t have a strong password, they may also be able to guess it by following the bread crumb trail all of us leave online.

How Do You Protect Against BEC Scams?

BEC scams are convincing. You’re dealing with professional con artists, not hacker hobbyists. Because of that, you need a multi-faceted plan, which will include email scam security solutions like:

  • Employee education
  • Having a clear verification process including additional safeguards when changing where payment is sent or when other red flags go up
  • Email server monitoring for suspicious activity
  • Strong password policy with two-step verification along with enforcement
  • Spam filters, which reduce the risk of you or someone else in C-suite seeing the spoof email in the first place.
  • Up-to-date malware protection

And above all, stay informed about scams and schemes like these. Criminals constantly adapt their strategies. Don’t fall for it. Follow our blog to stay up-to-date.

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