Regions BankBy ROBERT LEARD,
Wait a second. Look closer.
The email looks like it’s from the CEO. Or the CFO. It seems legitimate, and they’re telling you to wire some money from here to there – fast.
You don’t want to disappoint anyone. After all, it’s the boss’s orders.
But hold on. You don’t want to become a victim either. We see this more often than you probably think.
In rough numbers, when crooks carry out wire fraud schemes, the cost averages more than $100,000 per incident.
Many times, the crooks have hacked into a company’s systems and sent emails, disguised as an executive, instructing someone else who has access to the company’s bank accounts to move money quickly to some “client” or someone else’s account. Only, when the person who gets the email follows the instructions, the money is actually wired to an account controlled by the criminals. Then the criminals vanish, off to find their next victim.
Since last year, Regions Bank and law enforcement have seen a significant increase in wire fraud. So we’re doing something to help stop it. And information is the best protection.
One of the most common scams is known as business email compromise (BEC). According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, fraud from BEC increased by 136 percent between December 2016 and May 2018 – with total losses of more than $12 billion nationwide.
Business Email Compromise happens when someone hacks into a company’s systems and compose emails with what appears to be inside information. That gives their emails a feeling of legitimacy.
The fraudster – often pretending to be an executive or even a customer or vendor – pressures someone to hand over information, quickly pay an invoice or complete a wire transfer, usually citing some urgent deadline or insisting wire payments would be easier than other types of payments. If you see a message like this, it pays to look closer.
“To defeat business email compromises, the first thing is to authenticate — who, what, when and why? Verify and make certain what is received is what was expected. If it is not, question it,” said Don White, who works with us here at Regions as our head of Corporate Security. He recently addressed a group of Regions associates about the importance of us all working together to help identify and prevent fraud.
Here are some suggestions from law enforcement:
Be watchful of spelling errors, grammar problems or inconsistent information.
Don’t trust a site just because it claims to be secure.
Avoid filling out forms in email messages that ask for personal information.
Never respond to spam as this will confirm to the sender that it is a “live” email address.
Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of your own country.
Also, verify your sources:
Is the communication consistent with others from the same source?
If this is presented as an urgent request – why is that? Is the request, or payment, directed to someone who typically doesn’t receive these communications? How come?
Hover over email addresses and links to help determine if they are truly from expected sources.
Attempt to obtain a physical address, rather than a post office box or maildrop.
Contact the actual person who supposedly sent the email to verify if it’s authentic.
Regions also recommends you consistently know your customers and vendors well, and have checks and balances in place. If you believe something is questionable, follow your instinct; taking some time to verify if something is legitimate may be the best investment you can make in protecting your business.
Also, understand you aren’t alone. If you suspect something or discover fraudulent activity, act quickly. Contact your bank. Contact law enforcement. And get the process of disputing any transactions started.
“Regions is committed to our customers and to mitigating fraud and loss. And we need everyone’s help,” Don told us. “Every day, every night, every holiday, we have teams working behind the scenes to make certain that we mitigate, identify and prosecute those involved in financial crimes.”
We have more information at Regions.com on how to prevent fraud – and steps to take if you think you may be a victim. And if you have any questions, we’re here in Jackson and across Mississippi to offer advice and guidance – any time.
Robert Leard is the Metro Jackson Market Executive for Regions Bank.