Scam Alert -- How Con Artists Create Fake Versions of Real Emails

  
     
September 08, 2015


A sophisticated new scam is targeting business and personal email addresses. Scammers create email accounts nearly identical to an existing account and use that new account to initiate wire transfers. 

How the Scam Works:

You are working for a business that deals with contractors or suppliers. One day, you receive an email that comes from your contractor, requesting to be paid by wire transfer. This is unusual, but you have a long standing relationship with this contractor, so you initiate the transfer. 

Watch out! The email may be a fraud. Scammers are hacking into email accounts and spying on messages sent by the account owners. Then they create a new, second account that looks very similar. It may differ by a single character. 

Con artists then use these new accounts to initiate wire transfers. In some case, the funds from the unauthorized transfers are sent to money mules located in the United States. These mules may be victims of employment scams. They may have no idea that their new "job" involves moving money for scammers.

Tips to protect yourself from this scam: 

  • As always, be wary of suspicious emails. Do not open e-mail messages, click links or download attachments from unfamiliar senders. 
  • Double check email addresses. Watch out for changes in e-mail addresses that mimic legitimate e-mail addresses.
  • Question changes to payment instructions. Contact the real vendor to check on the change.
  • Have a dual step process in place for wire transfers. This can include verbal communication using a telephone number known by both parties.
  • Know your vendors. Be aware of each company's typical payment activity and question any variations. 


For More Information

To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam). To learn more about this scam, read this alert from the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.