FBI warns of growing threat to businesses via email

Losses mount due to business email compromise
Posted at 11:13 PM, Aug 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-01 07:17:01-04

The FBI is sounding the alarm about business email compromise.

It's a fancy name with a costly price to companies.

The FBI invited 3 News Now Anchor Craig Nigrelli to its Omaha headquarters to explain how it works and what business owners or operators should do to prevent it.

Here's how it works:

A scammer studies the ins and outs of a certain company, then sends a phishing email, often to the chief financial officer, comptroller or bookkeeper.

"They would be the ones who have the keys to the money and that's who they want to target," said Kristi Johnson Assistant Special Agent In-Charge of the Omaha office.

The email looks like an official internal document and urges the employee to pay a certain bill or make a payment immediately by wiring money to an account. But it's a scam, and the account where the employee sends the money is likely overseas.

"There's an urgency — 'do it right away,' 'get it done now' — that's the tactic they often use," Agent Johnson said.

The FBI Omaha office receives at least one complaint a week from local companies who have become victims of this type of scheme. Title companies, law firms and realtors, and others who deal with the transfer of money are frequent targets, she said.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim, she said, is to make sure the people who have the purse strings within a company make a phone call or have a direct conversation with the boss who supposedly is ordering them to wire money.

If you think you have been a victim, contact the Omaha FBI Office or file a complaint at