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Business email fraud affects New Jersey one of the worst in the country

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Don't click on that random link in your inbox, don't answer calls from numbers you don't recognize, and be careful before giving out personal information online, even if the target seems legitimate.

These days these “rules” seem to be common knowledge, but with all the scammers and online criminals out there, even the most careful internet users sometimes get caught up in a scam.

Online scams can come in different formats such as: B. fake shopping websites, competition prizes, job offers and more. A common type of scam is called a BEC scam. According to HoustonTech, a Texas-based managed IT services provider, New Jersey recorded the second-highest average financial loss per capita from BEC fraud in 2023.

Here's everything you need to know:

What is a BEC scam?

According to the FBI, business email compromise scams, also known as BEC scams, are among the most financially damaging online crimes. They take advantage of the fact that many people rely on email to conduct personal and professional business.

The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) defines a BEC scam as a “sophisticated scam that targets both businesses and individuals conducting money transfers.”

In a BEC scam, criminals send an email that appears to be from a known source, such as a provider your company regularly does business with. The “Provider” email may contain an invoice with an updated mailing address.

Scammers often spoof email accounts with subtle variations, send spearphishing emails that appear to be trustworthy, or use malware to gain access to corporate networks such as email threads to carry out requests, the FBI says.

Another example from the FBI is the CEO of a company asking his assistant to purchase gift cards to send to employees. The “CEO” can ask for the serial numbers so that they can be sent immediately.

Both the CEO and vendor examples occurred and the requests in the emails were fake, resulting in hundreds or even thousands of dollars being sent directly to the scammers.

According to the 2023 IC3 Internet Crime Report, IC3 received 21,489 BEC complaints last year, with adjusted losses of over $2.9 billion.

BEC fraud in New Jersey

To determine the state rankings, HoustonTech analyzed 2023 data on BEC crimes reported in the FBI's IC3 in various states. They calculated per capita losses by including state populations and “provided insights into the economic impact of BEC frauds in each state.”

New Jersey had a death toll of 628 people out of a population of 9,290,841, which corresponds to 6.76 victims per 100,000 residents. The total victim loss from BEC scams in New Jersey in 2023 was $140,070,206 and the per capita loss was $15.08.

Alaska took the top spot with 67 casualties, a loss of $12,236,756, and a per capita loss of $16.68.

The remaining ten states with the highest per capita loss due to BEC crime in 2023 are:

  • Nevada: 235 victims, $46,004,149 victim loss, $14.40 loss per capita
  • Rhode Island: 62, $14,195,616, $12.95
  • Minnesota: 321, $69,732,152, $12.15
  • Utah: 224, $38,595,361, $11.29
  • New York: 1,324, $216,249,339, $11.05
  • California: 3,161, $412,112,798, $10.58
  • Connecticut: 276, $38,103,346, $10.53
  • Arizona: 545, $76,850,493, $10.34

“The study results demonstrate the alarming prevalence of BEC scams and their damaging impact on state economies,” said Nuresh Momin of HoustonTech. “With states like Alaska and New Jersey experiencing disproportionate losses, it is evident that BEC scams pose a significant threat nationwide.”

How to protect yourself

According to the FBI, some of the ways you can protect yourself from BEC scams include:

  • Be careful with information you share online or on social media, such as: Such as pet names, schools, links to family members, birthdays, etc., as this information can provide scammers with the information they need to guess passwords or security questions.
  • Do not click on unsolicited emails or text messages asking you to update or confirm account information. Find the company's phone number yourself and call to make sure the request is genuine. Do not use the phone number provided by the potential scammer.
  • Carefully check email addresses, URLs, and spelling in all correspondence.
  • Download carefully and never open email attachments from someone you don't know.
  • Set up two-factor or multi-factor authentication for accounts that allow it.
  • Verify payment and purchase requests in person or over the phone to ensure they are legitimate.
  • Be especially careful if the applicant seems to be rushing you.

If you or your business falls victim to a BEC fraud, you should contact your financial institution immediately and ask them to contact the institution to which the money transfer was sent.

To report the crime, you can contact your local FBI field office and file a complaint with IC3 at www.ic3.gov.

Anna Harden

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