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Cyber Deception: The 3.1 Billion Dollar Scam

On June 14, 2016, the FBI issued a PSA about a cyber deception crime known as a Business E-Mail Compromise (BEC).

The FBI warns that the BEC, a.k.a. “The 3.1 Billion Dollar Scam,” is “a Sophisticated scam targeting businesses working with foreign suppliers and/or businesses that regularly perform wire transfer payments.” 

The scam attempts to make unauthorized transfers of funds through email. The fraudsters will compromise a legitimate business email through social engineering or hacking. They then use the email to contact a business.

The fraudsters send bogus emails from a legitimate vendor by appearances, but then requests funds sent to an alternate account. They may also send emails referring to an emergency or secret project that appears to come from a company executive.

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners,  the perpetrators do extensive research before initiating the BEC.  They learn about the company, the executive, and the person who will receive the fake email. They use the information that is easily available on the company website and in social media. Through hacking and phishing, scammers can learn about employees, organizational structure, and payment procedures. Reportedly, their emails will often attempt to mimic the language used by executives in prior emails.

The targets of BEC scams are usually companies that work with foreign suppliers or those that make wire transfer payments. However, the BEC scams target all types of companies as it evolves.

The threat of this cyber deception continues to grow. Since 2015, there has been a 1,300% increase in identified (actual and attempted) losses in United States dollars. As of the 2016 announcement, the FBI counted 22,143 domestic and international victims; a combined dollar loss approaching $3.1 billion.

The FBI stated that businesses with an understanding of this scam are more likely to recognize when scammers target them. They are then less likely fall victim and send fraudulent payments. The FBI suggests that business deploy internal prevention measures particularly for front-line employees who receive initial phishing attempts.

In response to this crisis, financial institutions will reportedly hold customer requests for international wire transfers for more time to verify the request. The FBI also suggests other steps for protection and best practices for businesses

  1. Avoid free web-based e-mail accounts. Establish a company domain name and use it to establish company e-mail accounts instead of free, web-based accounts.
  2. Be careful and aware of content posted on social media and company websites. This includes job duties and descriptions, hierarchal information, and out-of-office details.
  3. Be suspicious of requests for secrecy or pressure to act quickly.
  4. Consider additional IT and financial security procedures, including the implementation of a 2-step verification process.


Annual Benchmarking Report

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Peopletrail Annual Employment and Background Screening Benchmark Report Reveals Regulatory Challenges and Candidate Experience Are Top Priorities For Organizations

Peopletrail – a leading background check and screening solution provider – presents its Annual Employment and Background Screening Benchmark Survey Report providing human resource (HR) professionals with insights on key issues, best practices and underlying business drivers affecting background and drug screening programs. The employment background screening benchmark report reveals that hiring top talent, improving the candidate experience and remaining compliant with regulatory guidelines are key HR goals for companies of all sizes.

Annual Peopletrail Employment Background Screening Benchmark ReportAs competition for top talent increases, improving the candidate experience remains a top priority for medium to large organizations, according to the Peopletrail Annual Employment and Background Screening Benchmark Report. Released today the report depicts an optimistic outlook for companies of all sizes with a majority of respondents (78%) indicating their organizations’ workforce would grow in the coming year. The report also highlights how employee background screening continues to drive quality of hires. With 85% of respondents indicating that employee background screening uncovered issues that would not have been found otherwise.

“The Peopletrail Employment Background Screening Benchmark Report illustrates an optimistic outlook for the growth of many companies in the coming year and the importance of hiring quality talent. Peopletrail is committed to being an educating partner for all our clients. Helping our clients remain compliant and providing them with current policy and procedures helps them implement and achieve success with their talent management programs. The Peopletrail Benchmark Report is a helpful tool providing insightful data to our clients to make better-informed decisions”, stated Wally Davis, President, and CEO of Peopletrail.

Key insights from the Peopletrail Employment Background Screening Benchmark Report address how:

  • Social media screening is prevalent despite compliance risks: 27% of respondents indicated they used social media when screening candidates. While 82% of these respondents indicated using the business networking channel of LinkedIn in the social media screening, 73% mentioned using Facebook in their screening efforts, which could lead to potentially discriminatory information being revealed.
  • Improving the candidate experience is a top priority for medium to large organizations: 64% of organizations with more than 500 employees reported that the candidate experience is top priority to securing quality hires, while smaller organizations remain focused on improving policies and procedures around employee screening (68%).
  • Employee background screening continues to drive quality hires: 85% of respondents indicated that employee background screening uncovered issues that would not have been found otherwise, with 67% reporting that employee background screening is the most important security control used to protect their organization and 93% indicating that screening led to a better quality of hire.
  • Meeting regulatory challenges, getting accurate information and reducing time-to-hire are the top background screening challenges faced by most organizations: Contrary to other industry reports, the top three background screening challenges reported by respondents were meeting regulatory challenges (22%), getting accurate screening information (17%), and reducing time-to-hire (17%). The ongoing demands of meeting regulatory challenges are further supported by the 46% of respondents who indicated revising their criminal screening policies within the last year.

The report clearly indicates how important background screening is to hiring quality talent. Peopletrail recently launched a national awareness campaign to help companies understand how “Not all background checks are the same.” The campaign’s goal is to increase security for businesses and improve public safety and incorporates a series of awareness ads targeted to human resource professionals and hiring managers. The new Peopletrail Benchmark Report along with a series of Webinars and public speaking engagements from Peopletrail are building upon this campaign and are providing the industry and key decision makers with best practices information and insights to better manage their organization’s human capital programs.

To download your personal copy of the Peopletrail Annual Employment Background Screening Benchmark Report visit the Compliance Resource Center at To learn more about why “Not all background checks are the same” view the video at

Customers can learn more about Peopletrail and schedule a complimentary consultation by visiting the company’s website at or by calling the company directly at 866.223.6623

Annual Benchmarking Report