Criminals running business email compromise schemes often conduct well-researched and coordinated attacks on target companies. Criminals running business email compromise schemes often conduct well-researched and coordinated attacks on target companies. (Photo: momius/Adobe Stock)

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Report, business email compromise (BEC) is one of the most financially damaging online crimes. In 2022, there were nearly 22,000 related complaints, and businesses lost more than $2.7 billion to these scams. BEC is a scam that targets businesses rather than individuals — although there are similar types of consumer-focused scams called email account compromises.

While BEC always involves taking over or imitating a business email account, the scheme can play out in several ways. For example, the scammer might take over or imitate an email from an executive. They might then reach out to an employee on the finance team with an urgent request for a money transfer and have funds sent directly to the scammer’s account. Or the fake executive might ask an employee to buy and send them gift cards, which they can quickly cash out or resell.

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