The median monthly value of real estate business email compromise scams increased in 2021 compared to the year before, according to a recent analysis of Bank Secrecy Act data by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. In BECs, scammers target businesses and financial institutions that routinely conduct large wire transfers and rely on email for communication regarding the wires. FinCEN found that the reported monthly amount stolen was a median of $131,917 in 2021 compared to $108,712 in 2020, although that increase could be reflective of growing home prices at the time.
The most common BEC victims were individuals and entities involved in the title and closing processes within a real estate transaction, according to FinCEN. Nearly 88% of all incidents involved initial transfers of fraudulent funds to accounts at U.S. depository institutions as opposed to foreign accounts. In several incidents, illicit funds quickly moved from bank accounts to online payment platforms, or were used to purchase convertible virtual currencies, most commonly in the form of bitcoin.