FBI alert cites crypto's growing use in business email compromise scams

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received a growing number of business email compromise complaints involving cryptocurrency from 2018 to 2020, according to an April 13 alert.

IC3, the information center through which victims of an internet crime can file complaints to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, notes there are two main types of crypto-related business email compromise (BEC) scams. One involves hackers sending funds from the victim’s account directly to a cryptocurrency exchange, wherein the hacker controls the associated crypto wallet. The second is called a “second hop” transfer, in which the BEC victim’s funds fill a crypto wallet established by a second victim the scammer defrauded. 


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IC3 data shows that complaints of BEC increased from less than five in 2018 to 20 in 2020.  “Based on the data received, the IC3 expects this trend to continue into 2021,” according to the report.

More than $10 million in funds were lost due to crypto-based BEC scams in 2020, and crypto BEC scams include a higher average dollar loss compared to other types of fraud reported to IC3. 

About Author

MK Manoylov has been a reporter for The Block since 2020 — joining just before bitcoin surpassed $20,000 for the first time. Since then, MK has written nearly 1,000 articles for the publication, covering any and all crypto news but with a penchant toward NFT, metaverse, web3 gaming, funding, crime, hack and crypto ecosystem stories. MK holds a graduate degree from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program (SHERP) and has also covered health topics for WebMD and Insider. You can follow MK on X @MManoylov and on LinkedIn.