Quite a few people think of email fraud as a joke. People are quick to reference hokey emails sent from someone claiming to be a Nigerian prince or shady websites advertising cut-rate medications if someone were to ask them about email fraud.
While both of those scenarios could result in email fraud, it isn’t just emails from strangers that people at a business need to watch for when handling business communications. Email wire fraud often involves someone outside the company either hacking into a managerial or executive email account, or creating a duplicate account that looks similar enough to possibly fool staff members.
Why would someone go through all of that work just to send an email?
The goal of email wire fraud is to get someone to transfer money
Email wire fraud often looks like an employee opening an email that they think is from an executive, manager or owner of the business that they work for. This important person explains that there is a debt that needs to be paid or a transaction that must be completed right away. They ask the recipients to wire money from a business account directly to another bank account.
The accountant quickly fulfills what they believe to be a request from their boss. Several days later, however, they get pulled into their boss’s office to answer questions about that wire transfer. It turns out that no one in the company requested the transfer. Instead, it was a third party.
Unfortunately, once wire transfers are complete, it is usually impossible to recall the funds. Those who study this kind of fraud estimate that it has cost businesses more than $26 billion in lost funds just since 2016.
Staff training is a good way to protect your company
If your staff members don’t know what constitutes email wire fraud, they won’t necessarily be on the lookout for potentially dangerous email messages. Having specific protocols in place for any financial transactions completed by the business, including physical paperwork or secondary management approval, can help you avoid email wire fraud transfer. Helping your employees recognize these fraudulent emails when they arrive can be another important step.
Companies that have fallen victim to this or other forms of wire fraud may be able to take legal action against the holder of the account where the money got transferred or the party who initiated the email.