Residents working from home during COVID cautioned about email scams

Businesses moving to remote working during the latest COVID outbreak are urged to beware of the threat of email scams. Photo: Australian Federal Police.


BUSINESSES and individuals are urged to be alert to the threat of Business Email Compromise (BEC), as many organisations return to remote working due to recent COVID restrictions.

BEC is a fraud technique used by offenders to redirect legitimate fund transfers to alternative accounts.

Most commonly, offenders will intercept legitimate emails or invoices from known transaction partners and change banking details to include fraudulent payment information.

The victim will then unsuspectingly transfer funds to the offender.

BEC often goes unnoticed until the intended recipient of the funds enquires about the missing payment, or the victim becomes aware that the funds have been deposited incorrectly.

According to the Australian Federal Police (AFP), BEC is a persistent threat worldwide and in Australia the impact of BEC scams on victims is significant, with financial losses totalling more than $79 million in the past 12 months.

The AFP and its law enforcement partners formed a BEC taskforce in January 2020 to respond to the threat.

The taskforce’s objective is to coordinate a national effort to prevent BEC scams and disrupt associated cyber-criminal syndicates.

AFP Commander Cybercrime Operations Chris Goldsmid said anyone can be a victim of BEC, with cyber-criminals using sophisticated techniques to trick their targets.

“Don’t be embarrassed if you fall victim, report it immediately to your bank and the police to give us the best chance of recovering your money,” Commander Goldsmid said.

“If you are transferring money online do your due diligence, ensure you are comfortable that you are sending the money to the correct person and account.

“If you think an email is suspicious, make further enquiries. Call and check directly with the business or organisation you are dealing with.”

Over the past twelve months, more than 3,300 incidents of BEC have been reported to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) through its Report Cyber portal, with nearly half of those scams resulting in financial loss.

The AFP and its taskforce partners have managed to prevent $8.45 million from being lost from the community under these frauds for the 2020/21 financial year.

Further information on how to protect yourself and your business from BEC can be found at and the ACSC.

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