NASHVILLE, TN.- If your boss sends you an email, would you ignore it? 

More than likely not. And scammers know that too. The Better Business Bureau says scammers are using that to take advantage of workers. 

They know this well, because it almost happened to them. 

“It’s crazy! And of all places, the Better Business Bureau!” BJ Howard said.

BJ Howard is the Board Treasurer for the Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee. He was checking his email Tuesday morning, when one caught his eye. 

“I thought it was kind of odd. Very generic type,” Howard said. 

The email came from who he thought was his board chairperson, asking him to wire over $7,000 to pay one of their vendors. The sender told Howard they would send him all of the details for the transfer.

The sender also sent a routing number, bank account information for Howard to wire the money to. 

“I responded back questioning is the CEO out of pocket is our accountant out of pocket because that’s the normal chain to have this wire transfer done,” Howard said. “The email came back saying they are and we need to get this done as quickly as possible, and I’m about to go to another meeting, they won’t be able to answer my calls.” 

Howard then called the company’s COO, asking if he’s aware of any kind of urgent need for a wire transfer. The COO told him no. 

Then Howard noticed the email address of the sender. 

“When I looked at the email account,it said president exeuctive 12, and that’s not Carol’s email address. And I thought this was odd. But then, I looked at it again, and President had two II’s. So they didn’t spell president correctly in the email account,” Howard said. 

Howard and the BBB quickly stopped emailing the sender and notified authorities, giving law enforcement the banking account number, routing number and email information. 

Robyn Householder is the President and CEO of the BBB of Middle Tennessee.

“They’d done their homework. They knew who our board chair was! They used her name! They made it look like the email came from her!” Householder said. 

The BBB just completed a study that shows business email compromise scams (BEC)  are happening across the country. 

The scammer targets specific individuals with emails that direct them to send money to “new” bank accounts for trusted business leaders, partners, customers, employees or home buyers.  According to the Better Business Bureau, BEC fraud has resulted in more losses than any other type of fraud in the U.S, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). 

This serious and growing fraud has tripled over the last three years and jumped 50% in the first three months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2017. In 2018, 80% of businesses received at least one of these emails. To thwart scammers, businesses need to improve internet security, employee training and general awareness. There have been significant efforts to prosecute those behind this fraud. 

 

“Don’t respond to an email that you don’t know who it’s from. Check with your boss and see is this really somebody of authority in your company. 

For more information on this study, click here. https://www.bbb.org/globalassets/local-bbbs/council-113/media/bbb-explosion-of-bec-scams.pdf

 

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