HELENA — The FBI and the Helena Police Department (HPD) are warning the public about a rise in business e-mail compromise (BEC) schemes, specifically targeting title companies.
In one recent case, a local victim received an email that appeared to come from a title company, with instructions on how to wire his down payment. In a press release by HPD and the FBI, the email was cleverly disguised to look legitimate and included the name of a title company employee. The victim didn’t realize it was a scam until the money was sent, resulting in the loss of tens of thousands of dollars.
HPD says prospective home buyers, real estate agents, and title companies should remain vigilant and verify any communications regarding money transfers.
BEC – also known as email account compromise (EAC) - is a 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.
BEC scams are among the fastest growing internet fraud schemes and cost victims hundreds of millions of dollars in losses every year. In Montana in 2019, 55 victims with losses nearing $2.5 million were reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
If you or your company has been victimized by a BEC scam:
- Contact your financial institution immediately.
- Request that they contact the financial institution where the fraudulent transfer was sent.
- File a complaint - regardless of dollar loss – at ic3.gov.