We have warned many times of the dangers of a business email compromise (BEC), where a scammer poses as a company executive to try to trick the email recipient into transferring funds to the fraudster’s account. Thousands of cases have been documented by the Treasury Department just in the past two years. The FBI reports that BECs have increased 100% between May 2018 and July 2019, with over 166,000 victim complaints and a total dollar loss of more than $26 billion. You would think by now businesses, particularly sophisticated businesses, would be immune from these attacks. Think again. On October 30 media giant Nikkei Inc. (2018 sales of $3+ billion) issued a press release disclosing that an employee of its American subsidiary “transferred approximately 29 million United States dollars . . . of Nikkei America funds based on fraudulent instructions by a malicious third party who purported to be a management executive of Nikkei.” [Emphasis added.] Email is anonymous. When the transfer of anything valuable is involved, follow the “Hall or Call” rule. If the purported sender is down the hall, go speak with her face-to-face. If she is not, pick up the phone and call her. Don’t be Alexander Cooper.

Check out our series, Privacy Perils, to learn what steps you can take to guard your personal and company data. For more information about this topic and other cyber security concerns, please contact a member of our Privacy & Data Security team.