In April, the FBI issued an interesting report
about the rise in the use of cryptocurrency in business email compromise schemes. Although the scams involving compromised emails had been around for decades, the use of cryptocurrency in such scams became a rapidly increasing trend in recent years.
The scammers operate in a similar manner to the wire transfers frauds when business or personal email accounts get compromised through social engineering or computer intrusion with the request to transfer funds to the scammers’ bank account. But with the growing acceptance and wider use of cryptocurrencies in business and personal transactions, the scammers direct the victims to transfer crypto funds to the scammers’ wallets.
It is understandable why these crimes become more and more common. Although most crypto transactions can be traced on blockchain, there is no mechanism to identify the owner of the wallet. Crypto transactions are much faster than the bank wires and they cannot be reversed. Being a more efficient alternative to the bank transactions, unfortunately, crypto transfers are also used by criminals in all kinds of scams, including the email related.
According to the FBI report, the mentioning of cryptocurrencies in the business email compromise complaints was minimal before 2018 but since then the numbers more than doubled every year. Just last year alone there were 20 crimes reported with an average monetary loss exceeding 10 million dollars. It is anticipated that this number will continue to rise, therefore, the FBI warns people to be extra cautious when receiving requests for crypto funds transfers over an email.
If you received a suspicious email or became a victim of the email fraud, you can file an online complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center IC3 at www.ic3.gov
Summarized by Katrina Arden, Esq.