CEO Business email Compromise (BEC) Fraud

CEO/BEC fraud occurs when an employee authorised to make payments is tricked into paying a fake invoice or making an unauthorised transfer out of the business account.

How does it works?

  • A fraudster calls or emails posing as a high ranking figure within the company (e.g. CEO or CFO).
  • They have a good knowledge about the organization.
  • They require an urgent payment.
  • They use language such as: ‘Confidentiality’, ‘The company trusts you’, ‘I am currently unavailable’.
  • They refer to an expedited late payment, a need to solve a ‘supplier’ cash flow issue or the need to procure goods or services urgently.
  • The employee is requested not to follow the regular authorisation procedures.
  • Instructions on how to proceed may be given later, by a third person or via email.
  • The employee transfers funds to an account controlled by the fraudster.
  • Often, the request is for international payments to banks outside Europe.

What are the signs?

  • Unsolicited email/phone call
  • Direct contact from a senior official you are normally not in contact with
  • Request for absolute confidentiality
  • Pressure and a sense of urgency
  • Unusual request in contradiction with internal procedures
  • Threats or unusual flattery/promises of reward

What can you do?

As a Company

  • Be aware of the risks and ensure that employees are informed and aware too.
  • Encourage your staff to approach payment requests with caution.
  • Implement internal protocols concerning payments.
  • Implement a procedure to verify the legitimacy of payment requests received by email.
  • Establish reporting routines for managing fraud.
  • Review information posted on your company website, restrict information and show caution with regard to social media.
  • Upgrade and update technical security.
  • Always contact the police in cases of attempted fraud, even if you are not the victim of fraud.

As an employee

  • Strictly apply the security procedures in place for payments and procurement. Do not skip any steps and do not give in to pressure.
  • Always carefully check email addresses when dealing with sensitive information/money transfers.
  • In case of doubt on a transfer order, consult a competent colleague.
  • Never open suspicious links or attachments received by email. Be particularly careful when checking your private email on the company’s computers.
  • Restrict information and show caution with regard to social media.
  • Avoid sharing information on the company’s hierarchy, security or procedures.
  • If you receive a suspicious email or call, always inform your IT department.