Social engineering wire transfer scams cost U.S. businesses nearly $1.6 billion between October 2013 and December 2016, according to figures from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center yesterday. One fifth of those losses came in the last seven months of 2016, indicating a huge surge in these crimes.
These kinds of scams are known as business email compromises and email account compromises, in which fraudsters impersonate a trusted person in ordering a wire transfer to be redirected to another account or in which they use phishing to take over an official email account to order the change in wire transfer.
The FBI noted that 2016 saw a 50 percent increase in the number of classic complaints filed by businesses working with foreign suppliers. It saw a 480 percent increase in 2016 complaints filed by title companies targeted by scammers as part of a real estate deal. It also saw a surge of W2 phishing reports in the first four months of 2016 during tax season.