Wire Fraud

Part 2

Last article we discussed the rise in wire fraud. Prevention is great, but what should you do if it’s too late and you’ve been victim of a wire fraud scam?

If you feel like you are a victim here’s what the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recommends you do

  • Contact your bank and initiate a recall on the fund, then contact your local FBI office
  • File a detailed complaint with the IC3, or the Internet Crime Complaint Center, at www.IC3.gov
  • Change email passwords and check for any changes to your mailbox rules. Scammers might set up rules to forward mail, delete things, carbon copy (CC) or blind carbon copy (BCC) recipients
  • Change all e-banking and other passwords, pins, and security questions

If you feel like any of your contacts could be impacted by the wire fraud, make sure to alert them as well.

Part 1

If you are working with a client that insists on doing almost everything by email, and quickly, you could be dealing with a cybercriminal. Communicating by email leaves you and your client susceptible to wire fraud and occurrences are on the rise. The 2017 Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that victims lost more than $56 million in wire fraud incidents in 2017.[1] It’s important to take action to prevent wire fraud.

Wire fraud is when a scammer gets sensitive financial information and fraudulently deposits money into their own bank account. One of the most common forms of wire fraud is Business Email Compromise (BEC). This occurs when scammers create an email address similar to the intended recipient’s email address. The cybercriminal may request changes to the wire information or phone numbers to receive the funds intended for your transaction. Requesting you act urgently is a telltale sign of wire fraud. Real estate transactions are a prime target for scammers because of the amount of money the transaction involves.

Historically, large companies have been the target of this type of scam, but secure technology has left scammers targeting smaller businesses that have not invested in secure email systems. By investing in a secure email system, rather than using a free web-based email system, you can filter out and block contaminated emails, viruses and other attacks to keep transactions secure. Secure email systems encrypt messages by scrambling the contents. Without the proper password, the encrypted emails cannot be read. 

The number one way to protect yourself from this costly mistake is to always verbally confirm wire instructions the day the wire transfer is set to occur. While this is one great step to take, you can never be too careful. If you are dealing with a client who prefers communication by email and text, stress the importance of protecting their personal information. In the end, taking the time for a phone call or meeting in person is much less hassle than having to go through a long legal battle and potentially losing their money.


[1] “2017 Internet Crime Report” Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center. March 5, 2019, https://pdf.ic3.gov/2017_IC3Report.pdf

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