Wire Fraud Prevention Tips

Wire transfer fraud is on the rise with criminals targeting unsuspecting businesses with increasingly sophisticated email phishing scams. Fortunately, you can reduce the risk to your business by adopting some easy-to-follow procedures.

How wire fraud works

A common scam involves criminals attempting to defraud businesses by impersonating company executives, partners, or representatives of trusted vendors through email. This is how the scam works:

  1. A criminal gains access to a company executive or vendor email account through social media or some other means. In some cases, a criminal may create a fake email account that is slightly different, but appears similar. For example, if your vendor uses xyzinc.com as an email address, an email account may be set up using xyz-inc.com instead.
  2. The criminal sends an email to an employee with payables responsibilities to request a wire transfer. To make the request sound legitimate, the criminal may emulate the requestor's writing style and add information learned from reviewing the requestor's email or social media account. The email asks for immediate attention to meet an "urgent" need— perhaps an advance payment for goods or services or a change in payment instructions for outstanding invoices.
  3. Believing the request is legitimate and urgent, the employee complies and wires funds.

What to do if you suspect wire fraud

If your business is a target of wire transfer fraud, immediately contact your California Bank & Trust branch or call (800) 254-2265, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time, excluding federal holidays. (Select 0 to speak to a customer service representative).

After you notify us of a possible wire transfer fraud, we will attempt to recover the transferred funds. However, funds transferred by wire are typically available for withdrawal as soon as they enter the recipient's account, so it is possible you will not recognize the fraud until it is too late.

Remember, when CB&T receives wire instructions from an authorized employee, through online banking, or another legitimate wire request process, the bank is not responsible for covering any losses.

Four steps to help protect your business

Adopting these four best practices— and making them part of your company's training and policies—will help prevent wire fraud:

  1. Communicate – Inform employees and co-workers, especially those responsible for initiating wire transfers, about common email phishing and account takeover scams.
  2. Review – Train employees to closely inspect all emails requesting payments or changes to payment methods.
  3. Confirm – Ensure that all employees confirm payment requests received by email with each requestor in person or over the phone.
  4. Remind – Regularly remind your employees of the ongoing risk of fraud and ensure they are following procedures to help reduce your risk.

Additional protection against online fraud

To help mitigate the risk of wire fraud and other cybercrimes, download IBM® Security Trusteer Rapport® software free of charge. This software application works with your antivirus software to add an extra level of security to help prevent fraudulent transactions.