BEC and International Fraud Prevention

This month, our neighbors to the north are in full swing with their annual campaign to recognize, reject and report fraud.

In the U.S., corporate fraud remains one of the FBI’s highest criminal priorities. One area of acute concern, BEC fraud, has surpassed $26 billion since mid-2016. A September 2019 report by the agency reveals BEC scams were reported in 50 states and 177 countries.

BEC, also known as “cyber-enabled financial fraud”, is a form of spear phishing where criminals target key individuals who control the flow of finances within companies.Criminals impersonate senior executives and attempt to trick those in control of the finances into transferring money to unauthorized accounts.

Historically, the primary destinations for stolen funds were banks in China and Hong Kong followed by the UK, Mexico and Turkey. Manufacturing and construction industries were most often targeted.

Foreign citizens typically perpetuate these schemes. Many are members of transnational criminal organizations originating in Nigeria and branching out to other countries.

BEC scams are related to and sometimes conducted together with other forms of fraud. These include romance scams, employment opportunities scams, fraudulent online vehicle scams, rental scams, and lottery scams.

In Operation rewired (2019), the FBI, in coordination with the U.S. DOJ, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of the Treasury, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Department of State, arrested 281 persons connected to BEC schemes. The sweep resulted in seizure of nearly $3.7 million and the disruption and recovery of approximately $118 million in fraudulent wire transfers.


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