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The FBI has warned of a dramatic increase in targeted email attacks on company employees that appear to come from the CEO or other executive. These scams usually begin with the attackers compromising the executive's email account, or messaging from look-alike email addresses that may be one or two letters different from the real company email address.

A typical "CEO fraud" email asks that the victim initiate a wire transfer from the company bank account or provide personal information on employees. These attacks are especially hard to detect because the fraudsters often take the time to learn about relationships and trends within the company in order to craft a convincing email message. These would not normally be picked up by spam filters since they are targeted attacks on specific individuals, as opposed to generic attacks sent to mass amounts of people.

The FBI has reported that roughly $2.3 billion has been lost from this type of scam since October 2013. The best defense against this type of fraud is to educate employees about phishing scams so they know what to look for. It is also recommended to separate the tasks of initiating and approving wire transfers. A simple phone call to the sender to verify the integrity of a request could prevent a costly mistake.