May 5 Attempts at cyber wire fraud globally, via
emails purporting to be from trusted business associates, have
surged in the last seven months of 2016, the U.S. Federal Bureau
of Investigation said in a warning to businesses as it bid to
curb such crimes.
Fraudsters sought to steal some $5.3 billion through schemes
known as business email compromise, the FBI said in a report
released Thursday by its Internet Crime Complaint Center.
That's up from a total of $3.1 billion reported as of the
end of May, according to the survey of cases from law
enforcement agencies around the world, in which cyber criminals
request wire transfers in emails that look like they are from
senior corporate executives or business suppliers who regularly
The total number of business-email compromise cases almost
doubled from May to December of last year, rising to 40,203 from
U.S. victims jumped to 22,292 by December 2016, from 14,032
in May 2016, and non-U.S. victims of such crime numbered up to
2,053 by December 2016 against 1,636.
The survey, which covers cases dating back to October 2013,
does not keep track of how much money was actually lost to
The FBI has said that about one in four U.S. victims respond
by wiring money to fraudsters. In some of those cases,
authorities have been able to identify the crimes in time to
help victims recover the funds from banks before the criminals
pulled them out of the system.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in March that it had
charged a Lithuanian man with orchestrating a fraudulent email
scheme that had tricked agents and employees of two U.S.-based
internet companies into wiring more than $100 million to
overseas bank accounts.
Fraudsters have also use spoofed emails to trick corporate
workers into releasing sensitive data, including wage and tax
reports, according to the advisory.
(Reporting by Alastair Sharp in Toronto; Editing by Jim Finkle
and Bernadette Baum)