Main menu


Tips to protect your business from wire fraud

featured image

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) – Cybercriminals can be so cunning that even large universities like Commonwealth University of Virginia can be tricked into abandoning thousands of dollars in wire fraud schemes.

Nigerian cybercriminals successfully carried out business email compromises (BECs) by finding businesses and vendors that companies do business with on a regular basis. In the case of VCU, it was a construction company that the university had an ongoing contract with.

In this type of wire transfer scam, the scammer creates an email address that is sufficiently convincing that it is the company they are impersonating in order to leverage the existing email chain to give them an extra level of trust. need to do it. From there it’s just a matter of playing the long game. Nigerians in this particular scam have used this method to bleed multiple institutions out of the millions.

VCU lost nearly $500,000, but in this case it fared much better than other victims. According to the FBI, a University of North Carolina transferred about $2 million to scammers under the same scheme. In Texas, a Houston-based university, a construction company, and a government agency collectively lost more than $3 million to her.

Universities may seem unlikely to fall victim to BEC, but cyber expert Alex Nette said there’s so much cash flowing out of them that some accountants are skeptical about the wiring of funds. He said he might consider it carefully. Scammers know this and that’s why they take advantage of it.

“As long as you use the Internet, you are at risk. Whether it’s at work, in college, or at home with your family,” says Nette. “Our focus as a company is how to keep information safe online for both businesses and consumers.”

Nette, CEO of Hive Systems, a digital security firm in Richmond, says individuals and businesses that are too big or too small don’t fall for these schemes as long as their information is vulnerable. .

“The best thing about the internet is that it connects us all, but the worst thing about the internet is that it connects us all,” said Nette. “Right now, the biggest obstacle for us is the speed of business.”

According to Nette, scammers are lurking behind your screen, just waiting for you to let your guard down. But he says you can slow these criminals down by simply picking up the phone and making sure you’re dealing with a real company.

“Call the company. ‘I just got an email from you guys. I want to confirm that there is a new place where I can send money…'” says Nette. “Getting all that information and stopping the cycle of abuse by just picking up the phone will only make things easier for all of us.”

In the case of VCU, a university spokesperson said through insurance, the university was able to recover a significant amount of money, and additional safeguards were put in place to protect against this type of fraud. But Nette says a simple phone call could have made the difference to ensure the university didn’t suffer any losses.

BEC scammers can also attempt to impersonate individuals by hacking information to disguise victims as contacts and using the authenticity of victim emails to trick loved ones and colleagues. I have.

Nette also says you should protect yourself from this method by not using the same password for multiple accounts and setting up two-factor authentication to access your accounts.

“No one is safe. That’s the biggest idea behind cybersecurity,” said Nette.

Victims of VCU and other $5 million wire fraud schemes may have lost a tiny amount of money, but the consequences of falling victim to this type of crime can be devastating for individuals and small businesses. may become. In most cases, large amounts of funds are frequently transferred to multiple domestic and international accounts, making it unlikely that victims will ever see any trace of them again.

With the advent of cryptocurrencies, the chances of tracking down and recovering stolen funds are even less.

According to Nette, six out of 10 small businesses suffering from BEC go bankrupt because they lack insurance policies and cash flow to cover the economic losses.

“There are all kinds of companies with tools and means to mitigate that risk, but it still exists,” Nette said. “This means we all need to take steps to protect ourselves.”

How to protect yourself:

  • Be careful with the information you share online or on social media. By openly sharing your pet’s name, school they attended, family links, date of birth, and more, scammers have all the information they need to guess your password or answer your secret questions. We can provide.
  • Do not click on any unsolicited emails or text messages asking you to update or verify your account information. Find out the company’s phone number yourself (don’t use the phone number provided by potential scammers), call the company and ask if the request is legitimate.
  • Carefully examine email addresses, URLs, and spelling used in communications. Scammers use subtle differences to trick your eyes and gain your trust.
  • Be careful what you download. Never open email attachments from people you don’t know. Also, be careful about attachments in forwarded emails.
  • Set it on all accounts that allow two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication and never disable it.
  • Please verify payment and purchase requests in person if possible or over the phone to ensure they are legitimate. Please notify the applicant of any changes to account numbers or payment methods.
  • Be especially careful if the requester is pressing you to respond quickly.

For more resources on how to keep yourself or your business, click here.

Copyright 2022 WWBT. all rights reserved.

Please send it to number 12 here.

Want NBC12’s top stories in your inbox every morning? Subscribe here.