Fake email supplier scams are booming and have inflicted $1.2 billion in damages to businesses globally in the past year according to the FBI.
The scams formally known as "business email compromise" involved a fraudster compromising the email account of an existing supplier and attempting to steal funds by tricking staff into paying non-existent invoices.
Net scum would send legitimate-looking emails to target companies with instructions to pay into often Asian bank accounts.
The ruse has paid off; the crime agency reports a 270 percent increase in the number of reported scams since October last year.
"Business Email Compromise is defined as a sophisticated scam targeting businesses working with foreign suppliers or businesses that regularly perform wire transfer payments," the agency says in a statement.
"The scam is carried out by compromising legitimate business e-mail accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to conduct unauthorized transfers of funds.
"These intrusions can initially be facilitated through a phishing scam in which a victim receives an email from a seemingly legitimate source that contains a malicious link [which] the victim clicks on and downloads malware."
It has cost US businesses the lion's share of global damages according to agency figures. The 7066 identified US victim organisations have lost US$747.7 million. The 1113 remaining global victim businesses have lost US$51.2 million.
Scammers in the latest version of the ruse masquerade as lawyers or similar legal eagles bearing confidential information that could involved a brazen phone call between victim and fleecer.
The feds say victim organisations are pressured to act quickly or quietly with the fund transfer, often timed to be at the end of business or prior to Friday beers.
Awareness has helped some businesses to detect the scam before money was wired, however the FBI recommends security and tech bods implement intrusion detection flags, register possible typosquat domains before scammers can, and use two factor authentication to verify any payment location changes. ®