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Loss Prevention Tip #56 Avoiding Business Email Compromise Scams

A recent article from the Globe and Mail “Homebuyers targeted by fraudsters impersonating real estate lawyers” warns of an increase in fraudulent real estate transactions, in a scenario that could pose a potential threat to our members. This type of Business Email Compromise (BEC) scam is becoming increasingly common as more real estate transactions take place online, and as fraudsters become increasingly tech-savvy.

According to the RCMP Website, “the BEC scam relies on spear-phishing which is a highly targeted tactic that criminals use to gain knowledge of and steal from a business and/or its employees. By leveraging existing business relationships between the person receiving the email and the person sending it, the criminal, pretending to be the trusted sender, will use various means to convince the recipient to send money or share financial information. BEC is one of the most financially damaging online crimes.”

Some tips to avoid these fraudulent business email compromises are:

  • Focus on education and prevention by training employees on good security practices, keep current on frauds targeting businesses. The Canadian Anti-fraud Centre has great information and resources available.
  • Never open e-mails, click on attachments or links from an unknown address as they may contain malware used to compromise accounts.
  • Use a two-step verification process for payment requests. Contact the source through another means of communication (e.g. by phone) to confirm the request is legitimate. Do not rely on e-mail alone.
  • Use a dual-signature system with dual-authentication (the use of a security token), requiring at least two different authorized signatures for wire transfers.