Instances of cyberattacks have drastically increased in the last two years. The prevalence of threats is largely due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. According to the INTERPOL, hackers, and cybercriminals mainly exploit the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic to facilitate their attacks:
“Cybercriminals are developing and boosting their attacks at an alarming pace, exploiting the fear and uncertainty caused by the unstable social and economic situation created by COVID-19. The increased online dependency for people around the world is also creating new opportunities, with many businesses and individuals not ensuring their cyber defenses are up to date. The report’s findings again underline the need for closer public-private sector cooperation if we are to effectively tackle the threat COVID-19 also poses to our cyber health” explained Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary-General.
The same report showed an increase in instances of online scams and frauds across all industries. Without a doubt, business owners are well-advised to brush and keep up with common threats that can significantly affect their operations.
Undoubtedly, companies across all sectors should be aware of the damning risks of wire fraud. This article explores the intricacies of wire fraud, including tell-tale signs of a scam, and the best way to prevent your company from falling into this type of threat.
What is Wire Fraud?
The U.S. Department of Justice defines wire fraud as:
“Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation occurs in relation to, or involving any benefit authorized, transported, transmitted, transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection with, a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency (as those terms are defined in section 102 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act ( 42 U.S.C. 5122 )), or affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.”
Initially, the statute only covers scams committed through the phone, mail, radio, or television, but it has since expanded to violations perpetrated online. According to experts, wire fraud scams are one of the most dangerous modern threats to individuals and organizations.
What are the most common types of wire fraud?
As mentioned earlier, wire fraud scams can be instigated in a number of different ways. Criminals can choose to facilitate an attack online or via the phone, television, or radio. Nevertheless, below are the most common wire fraud scams all companies should watch out for:
- Emergency Scam
Emergency scams often entail a sense of urgency in the light of an unforeseen circumstance. Attackers would impersonate someone within or associated with the company in order to lure victims into surrendering information or sending financial help.
- Investment Scam
As the name suggests, investment scams entice victims by offering money-making opportunities in exchange for a small investment. Often, these ”investments” are overseas; making it difficult for the victims to verify the information. This messaging makes use of legitimate-looking sources.
Signs of a Wire Fraud Scam
Cyberattacks, wire fraud or otherwise, have become sophisticated over the last few years. Truth be told, it is now very challenging to identify fraud attempts. There are, however, tell-tale signs of these attacks.
Here are a few you should watch out for:
- Urgent requests sent before the end of business day
- Wire transfer requests that are inconsistent with prior correspondence
- Wire transfer requests sent by a person that is unknown to the company
- Requests with an unprofessional tone or text
- Misspellings, typos, and incorrect grammar
- Correspondence that insists on new or uncommon payment methods
If a wire transfer request fulfills one or more, it is best to verify the transaction before proceeding.
Avoiding Wire Fraud Scams for Your Company
No business is safe from malicious wire fraud attacks in this day and age. Hackers and cybercriminals no longer discriminate, and they are willing to attack small and medium businesses.
Thankfully, there are ways you can prevent your company from succumbing to a successful instance of wire fraud scam:
- Use Strong Spam Filters
Even the most competent people can fall for wire fraud scams. That said, it is best to nip the problem in the bud. Using strong spam filters for your company email network eliminates the chances of an employee opening a fraudulent email altogether. At the end of the day, if hackers and cybercriminals can get to your staff’s inbox, they won’t be able to take advantage of them.
- Implement a Verification Process
Implementing a verification process during wire transfers is one of the best ways to prevent falling for a wire fraud scam. This process can look different depending on the type of operation that you run. It is, however, essential to train your employees to ask for proper identification at key points of the transaction.
- Educate Staff on the Latest Wire Fraud Scams
As they say, knowledge is power. The more information your employees know about common wire fraud scams, the less likely they will fall for them. It is important to note that cybersecurity training isn’t a one-off thing. Regular information dissemination is needed to ensure that modern risks are identified.
- Implement Real-Time Monitoring
Real-time monitoring is invaluable when it comes to protecting your network and digital assets. These cybersecurity protocols can detect unusual activity and inconsistent patterns. It identifies a threat even before it presents itself to the employees.
Just because cyberattacks have become more sophisticated and prevalent doesn’t mean there aren’t ways your company can avoid being the next target. Since attacks have become more elevated, it makes sense that you elevate your cybersecurity protocols as well.