Fraudulent Email Balance Requests

January 30, 2012
The FBI has released a fraud alert involving email intrusions to facilitate wire transfers to foreign countries. This expands on the current alert in this section, dated January 24, 2012. The characteristics of the fraud are:
  • A business or consumer’s email account is compromised. Normally this would be done by malware on a PC owned by the business or consumer or instances in which the customer has answered a fraudulent fax from a credit agency. The criminals are also creating fake email addresses that are just slightly different than the customer’s real email address.
  • The financial institution, broker/dealer, credit union or other institution receives an email that appears to be from the business or consumer requesting their account balance.
  • If the request is responded to with the balance amount, a fraudulent wire transfer is requested. Many times the request is by email, but there have been reports in which the request has come in as a fax as well.
  • The FBI has seen fraudulent wire requests range from $17,500 to $183,000.
  • The criminals are able to produce documents by copying the customer’s signature from other documents obtained via fraudulent faxes or compromised email or PC accounts.

What do you need to do?

  • Follow best practices to protect yourself and your confidential information.
  • If you receive an unsolicited fax, email or even a text or phone call from an organization requesting your confidential information, it is not real and you should not respond to it.
  • If you think it is real, call the company and verify, but do NOT call the phone number listed on the request, look up the number from other sources.
  • If you believe you are a victim of cyber crime, contact your local FBI field office or file a complaint online at