Small businesses, school districts and government agencies in New Mexico should be on the alert for business email scams, which have resulted in losses of more than $1 million in the state during the first six months of this year, the FBI says.
That number is likely even higher because not all victims report the crime, spokesman Frank Fisher says.
Called business email compromise scams, these increasingly common schemes happen when employees receive an email that looks like it comes from a company or individual with whom they do business.
The sender asks that funds be sent to an account that is different from the usual “or otherwise alters the standard payment practices,” the agency said in a news release.
One county in the state recently lost nearly $500,000, although Fisher would not give details, saying the case is under investigation. A small private school district was kept from losing more than $55,000 “through quick action by employees,” the news release said.
Earlier last month, the city of Albuquerque was poised to lose $1.9 million in a vendor fraud scheme, but the transaction was halted after it was flagged by a Wells Fargo bank employee.
The FBI says 29 such incidents were reported in New Mexico between January and June of this year, most of them hitting businesses, Fisher said.
One example of a bogus email, cited by the FBI, came as a “Request from CEO” to “Chief Financial Officer.” The subject line said, “Immediate Wire Transfer,” and the contents said, “Please process a wire transfer payment in the amount of $250,000 and code to ‘admin expenses’ by COB (close of business) today. Wiring instructions below. …”
If you discover you are a victim of this, contact the relevant financial institution immediately to “request a recall of funds,” and let your employer know, the FBI says. File a complaint to the agency’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at bec.ic3.gov.
Here are the red flags, the FBI says:
• An unexplained urgency.
• Last-minute changes in regular communication platforms or email addresses.
• Requests for advanced payments when not previously required.
• Communications that are only in email and a refusal to talk by phone or online voice or video platforms.
To avoid falling for a business email scam, make sure to verify any requested changes and other details using the contact information on file rather than relying on information the supposed vendor provided in the email.
Nexus Brewery is not looking for delivery drivers, In fact, Nexus Brewery does not make deliveries.
The local restaurant and brewery was named in a recent fake job scam that hit an unknown number of cellphone users recently.
The text said the brewery would pay $1,500 a week to “good and honest” people who could make deliveries. It had a phone number to call, which – surprise – was not the legitimate Nexus Brewery phone number, owner Ken Carson said.
He said one woman who got the text told him she had called the number given and was asked for her driver’s license and Social Security numbers. At that point, she realized it was all bogus.
“I have no idea what kind of list they were using to send (the text) out to people,” Carson said. “We have no formal list.”
Contact Ellen Marks at email@example.com or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-888-255-9210 or file a complaint at www.nmag.gov/file-a-complaint.aspx.