Scammers infiltrating legitimate businesses to trick you into handing over your money

A warning for you — don’t trust everything that lands in your email inbox.

Scammers are finding ways to infiltrate legitimate businesses so they can cloak themselves and trick you into handing over your money.

Katie Eglseder was buying her dream house but as an experienced title agent, she picked up on something strange in an email that looked like it was sent from her closing company.

“They were asking us to send them a copy of the wiring instructions we were using, which immediately we knew that’s not right,” she said.

So Eglseder asked why and they said the normal account was being audited and they would send new wiring instructions.

They responded with a copy of our closing statement, which blew my mind away,” she said.

She’d been targeted by the business email compromise. Scammers infiltrate a computer or email system, often for months, grabbing documents and learning everything they can, even the lingo and style of the business. Then, they pose as that company, sending you emails. End game? To get your money,

According to the FBI, this scam is hitting Southwest Florida hard.

“The number was trending down the end of last year and the beginning of this year until the pandemic hit and now we’ve seen a significant increase,” said Special Agent Andrew Sekela, FBI Tampa.

In 2019, the IC3 received 23,775 Business Email Compromise (BEC) / Email Account Compromise (EAC) complaints with adjusted losses of over $1.7 billion.

BEC/EAC is a sophisticated scam targeting both businesses and individuals performing a transfer of funds. The scam is frequently carried out when a subject compromises legitimate business email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to conduct unauthorized transfers of funds.

Sekela says there’s one way to make sure you protect yourself from these types of scams: “Two-factor authentication. That means whenever you get wiring instructions, call the person, your known contact, and verify those instructions are accurate.”

Business email compromise timeline

Fortunately for Eglseder, she knew immediately that this email was a fraud and put an end to it before it ended her dream.

There’s always that chance that if we didn’t catch it in time, it would have been gone and I would have lost my house,” she said.

Good news — Eglseder closed on her home Friday, but this scam is everywhere. If you are buying or selling a house or know anyone who is, share this story with them and check out the links below for tips to protect yourself and how to spot this scam.


Reporter:Rich Kolko
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