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Understanding Business Email Compromise (BEC) Scams

05/28/2024 - Risk Management, Growing Your Business

Woman checking her email in a meeting

Protect Your Business from Business Email Compromise (BEC) Scams

In today’s interconnected world, small businesses face numerous challenges, and one of the most prevalent is the threat of Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams. These sophisticated cybercrimes target businesses engaged in international transactions or regular wire transfers, posing a significant risk to financial security.

Understanding Business Email Compromise

BEC scams involve attackers impersonating trusted entities, such as company executives or suppliers, to deceive employees into initiating unauthorized wire transfers or divulging sensitive information. BEC scams often target individuals responsible for financial transactions and rely on carefully crafted emails that closely mimic legitimate requests, making them difficult to identify as fraudulent.

Potential Targets and Methods of BEC Scams

Businesses and Personnel Using Open Source Email: Cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in open source email systems to infiltrate organizations.

Individuals Handling Wire Transfers: Employees tasked with processing wire transfers are prime targets for BEC scams.

Spoof Emails: Attackers use deceptive subject lines and content to trick recipients into taking action, such as initiating a wire transfer.

Well-Worded Requests: Fraudulent emails are often tailored to the specific context of the targeted business, increasing their credibility.

Warning Signs and Protection Measures

When checking your email, be on the lookout for these warning signs that could indicate a BEC phishing scam:

  • Messages that don’t address you by name.
  • Messages that contain typos.
  • Emails that mimic a business’s website address, but they come from a different source.
  • Messages containing an attention-getting subject line, attachment, or link that may lead to a fake website or download malware.

Protecting Your Organization

As a proactive step in safeguarding your business, consider the following strategies:

Avoid Free Web-Based Email: Minimize the use of free web-based email services and opt for secure company domain accounts.

Social Media Caution: Exercise caution when sharing sensitive information on social media platforms or company websites.

Be Skeptical of Urgent Requests: Beware of emails urging secrecy or pressuring swift action, as these are common tactics used in BEC scams.

Device Security: Keep computer devices separate from Internet of Things (IoT) devices and disable Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) protocols on routers to enhance network security.

Reporting BEC Attacks

If you believe your business has fallen victim to a BEC scam, it’s crucial to report the incident promptly. File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at, providing detailed information about the incident and identifying it as “Business Email Compromise” or “BEC.”

Business Email Compromise scams pose a significant threat to small businesses, but by implementing proactive security measures and fostering a culture of vigilance among employees, you can mitigate the risk and protect your organization’s financial well-being.

WesBanco is committed to supporting small businesses in navigating the challenges of cybersecurity and financial fraud. Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive solutions for protecting your business against BEC scams and other cyber threats.


Content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of WesBanco.

While we hope you find this content useful, it is only intended to serve as a starting point. Your next step is to speak with a qualified, licensed professional who can provide advice tailored to your individual circumstances. Nothing in this article, nor in any associated resources, should be construed as financial or legal advice. Furthermore, while we have made good faith efforts to ensure that the information presented was correct as of the date the content was prepared, we are unable to guarantee that it remains accurate today.

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