This Simple Scam Has Cost Businesses $2B in 2 Years

'It's easy; all you need is a computer'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2016 4:04 PM CST
This Simple Scam Has Cost Businesses $2B in 2 Years

International scammers are successfully tricking businesses into wiring them as much $90 million at a time, and the problem is getting worse, the Financial Times reports. In a scam known as "business email crime" or "CEO fraud," criminals impersonate the email account of a business's CEO and tell an employee to wire money to a bank account overseas. The FBI states CEO fraud has cost businesses around the world more than $2 billion in a little more than two years. More than 12,000 companies—large and small—have been targeted, with the victims wiring an average of $120,000 to the scammers.

According to the FBI, CEO fraud is becoming more common in recent months. “It’s easy," the FBI's James Barnacle tells the Financial Times. "All you need is a computer." So far, money has been wired to 108 different countries, and it's unclear if there is a single major group running these scams. "Criminals don’t have borders and this is a global problem,” Barnacle says. “We’re working with foreign partners around the world to try to tackle this crime problem.” In the meantime, the FBI says workers should call their CEOs for confirmation before transferring money. (More online scam stories.)

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