The Email Fraud Risk of Remote Employees

While some fraudsters depend on people not paying attention to their devices, others use advanced techniques like phishing scams. These are carefully designed emails meant to look official and draw people in using official-sounding language and familiar-looking logos… Be wary of email fraud.

You might receive an email from an unknown number with, “OMG, Hi there, it’s Melanie from corporate. I was wondering if I could ask you a quick security question?” If you’ve ever seen a suspicious email like this, be warned that this is a scam.

This is known as ‘BEC.’ An email scam begins with the victim receiving a standard-practice message asking for confirmatory information. In BEC, the fraudster asks for an employee’s security credentials. The scam usually starts with a fake email from a boss or client and can end with an employee wiring thousands of dollars to a scammer.

The Rise of Email Fraud

In the U.S. alone, fraud related to Business Email Compromise (BEC) cases cost victims close to $1.8 billion in 2019 alone. Worldwide, those losses approach $26 billion between 2016 and 2019—and the numbers are likely even higher because many victims don’t report such crimes.

Increased email usage by the millions of Americans working from home for the first time—many on unprotected personal computers—only increases the threat of computer network attacks.

By the time you read this, I’m sure security experts are already warning you not to ignore an email asking you to transfer money or wire large sums of cash. But just in case it helps someone who isn’t a cybersecurity guru like our readers: Don’t do it! If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Common Practices

Con artists often use a sense of urgency to trick people into complying with their requests. For example, scammers might send an email from the boss requesting an immediate transfer of money. Mid or lower-level employees worry that they’ll anger their boss if they don’t comply, so they send away their money without verifying the request.

The FBI is involved in fraud investigation with the Department of Justice, other local and federal agencies, and the banking industry. Every year, they progress in identifying and prosecuting fraudulent schemes and educating consumers on ways to safeguard themselves against potential losses… But it’s not always enough. It’s still difficult to recover money once the fraudsters have taken it.

Avoiding Such Scams

One way to help prevent BEC fraud is to raise awareness among employees. Some businesses use training and transaction policies to educate employees about fraud’s dangers and create operational transfer procedures.

The best policies require several people to review a transaction before it is finalized and confirmation from the intended recipient. For businesses today, cyber-security is not an option—it is an imperative. As more and more Americans work at home, no company can afford to ignore the risk of attack.

With this in mind, be sure to review your business’s policies. However, if you need more, our company can provide more helpful information like this.