The year 2020 will forever be remembered as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The global impact was unlike anything seen in recent history, and the virus permeated all aspects of life, including cybercriminals who used the opportunity to exploit the pandemic by targeting businesses via Business Email Compromise.

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, the number of cyber complaints reported in 2020 grew by 69% from 2019 and Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes continued to be the costliest with an adjusted loss of over $1.8 billion in 2020.

Cybercriminals continue to become more sophisticated, leveraging a wide range of tactics in order to attack their victims and unfortunately, BEC schemes are one tactic that has increased in frequency and  complexity in recent years.

Put simply, a BEC scam entails a cybercriminal impersonating a seemingly legitimate source—such as a senior-level employee, supplier, vendor, business partner or other organization—via email. The cybercriminal uses these emails to gain the trust of their target, thus tricking the victim into believing they are communicating with a genuine sender. From there, the cybercriminal convinces their target to wire money, share sensitive information (e.g., customer and employee data, proprietary knowledge or trade secrets) or engage in other compromising activities.

BEC scams can lead to numerous consequences within your organization—including stolen data, financial hardship and potentially severe reputational damages. Nevertheless, these scams can be deterred through various cybersecurity techniques. Review this guidance to learn more about what BEC scams are and top measures that your organization can implement to prevent such scams.

Business Email Compromise Scams Explained

Business Email Compromise

Essentially, BEC scams consist of cybercriminals impersonating an individual or entity within their targets’ trusted networks for malicious gains. These scams are categorized as a form of social engineering—which refers to a broader cyberattack method that preys on key human behaviors (e.g., trust of authority, fear of conflict and promise of rewards) to obtain unwarranted access to organizational systems, funds or data.

Cybercriminals who execute BEC scams often utilize these social engineering strategies:

  • Creating confusing variations—In an attempt to convince their targets that they are a trusted source, cybercriminals may create email addresses that are nearly identical to the source they are impersonating, with the exception of a few characters (e.g., altering the email address “janedoe@samplecompany.com” to “janedoee@samplecompanyy.com”).
  • Using spear-phishing techniques—Cybercriminals may engage in spear phishing by conducting additional research on their targets and leveraging any extra details they discover to further motivate victims to believe their false identities. When spear phishing, cybercriminals often impersonate sources who are more directly connected to their targets (e.g., a close colleague or department leader).
  • Deploying malware—When sending fraudulent emails in BEC scams, cybercriminals may encourage their targets to download harmful attachments or click on deceptive links in an effort to launch malicious software—also known as malware. Once activated, this software can help cybercriminals more easily gain access to their victims’ systems, funds and data.

According to the FBI, there are several different types of BEC scams, including the following:

  • False invoice scheme—In such a scheme, a cybercriminal impersonates an organizational supplier to trick their target into paying fraudulent invoices or transferring funds to a phony account.
  • CEO fraud—This scam method entails a cybercriminal impersonating a senior-level employee or executive and requesting that their victim conduct a wire transfer to a fake account. The request is often demanding in nature, threatening the victim with work-related consequences or other punishments for failing to comply.
  • Account compromise—Within this scam tactic, a cybercriminal hacks into an employee or executive’s actual email account and distributes messages to various contacts—attempting to fool these recipients into paying fraudulent invoices.
  • Attorney impersonation—This scam technique refers to a cybercriminal impersonating a lawyer or other legal representative and requesting a payment be made to a phony account in order to handle an organizational matter deemed “sensitive” or “pressing.”
  • Data theft—In such a scam method, a cybercriminal impersonates an HR professional to trick their target into sharing personal information about employees or executives. The cybercriminal can then leverage this sensitive data during future attacks.

Preventing Business Email Compromise Scams

Any employee can become the target of a BEC scam, putting the security and financial stability of your entire organization at risk. Be sure to implement the following cybersecurity measures to help deter BEC scams:

  • Educate your employees. Minimizing losses from BEC scams starts with training your employees on how to detect and prevent such instances. Equip your staff with these best practices:
    • Refrain from sharing personal or work-related information on social media platforms, as cybercriminals could use those details to help launch a BEC scam.
    • Avoid opening or responding to emails from individuals or organizations you don’t know. If an email claims to be from a trusted source, be sure to verify their identity by double-checking the address.
    • Be wary of emails that lack personalization, contain spelling and grammatical errors, request sensitive details or use threatening language. Don’t divulge financial information over email.
    • Never click on suspicious links contained in emails. Similarly, avoid downloading email attachments from unknown sources.
    • If you suspect a BEC scam, contact your manager or the IT department immediately for further guidance.
  • Implement effective payment protocols. Having safe and secure payment procedures within your organization can help put a stop to BEC scams before any money is lost. As such, instruct employees who handle your organization’s financial operations to carefully analyze invoices and fund transfer requests to ensure their validity. When possible, these requests should be discussed in person before moving forward—especially if they involve alternative payment procedures or changes in account numbers. Further, consider utilizing several verification methods to confirm payment requests.
  • Restrict access to sensitive data. Only provide employees with access to sensitive organizational data if they are trusted, experienced and require such information to conduct their work tasks. Protect this data with access controls and multifactor authentication measures.
  • Utilize security features. Make sure all organizational devices possess adequate security features to help deter BEC scams—including access to a virtual private network, antivirus and malware prevention programs, email spam filters, data encryption capabilities and a firewall. Update these security features as needed.
  • Have a plan. Lastly, ensure that your organization has an effective cyber incident response plan in place. This plan should specifically address response protocols and mitigation measures for BEC scams. In particular, your organization should plan on contacting your financial institution as soon as a BEC scam occurs to determine whether funds have been stolen from your account. If money has been taken, the account should be temporarily frozen to prevent further theft. Apart from consulting your financial institution, your organization should also report BEC scams to your local FBI field office and log such scams with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Don’t let Business Email Compromise scams—or any type of cyber exposure—threaten your business.

Contact CoverLink Insurance today to learn more about available cyber policies and effective risk management techniques to protect your organization from Business Email Compromise scams.

Tom Simon

Tom Simon

Chairman of the Board

Tom has worked in the insurance industry since 1977 holding numerous positions from Account Executive and Agency Manager, President to his current role. He combines his unique ability of thinking differently with his wealth of insurance and business experience to propel CoverLink to new levels of success.

In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, especially his grandkids. In addition, he’s also an avid woodsman… yes, you read that correctly. He can often be found yelling “timber” or just splitting firewood for family and friends.

 

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Matt Simon

President

Prior to joining the team at CoverLink in 2006, Matt worked as an Underwriter with a multi-state insurance company located in Columbus, Ohio. Matt is a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) and Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), having successfully completed the rigorous coursework and exams to earn these designations.

He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Ohio Insurance Agents Association and the Associated Risk Managers of Ohio, in addition to volunteering his time to multiple other community and industry organizations.

In 2013, Matt was awarded and recognized as the National Young Insurance Agent of the Year, and in 2019 he was recognized as the Insurance Advisor of the year by Finance Monthly.

 

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Gina Loehr

Gina Loehr

Senior Account Manager

Gina oversees the Commercial Lines division at CoverLink, which is responsible for managing the business insurance needs for clients.

She has worked in the insurance industry since 1980, beginning as a Commercial Underwriter with a regional company located in Springfield, Ohio.

In 1984, she earned her Certificate in General Insurance, and in 1995, her Accredited Advisor of Insurance designation.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, including four grandkids, and biking.

 

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Kyle Carper

Account Manager

Kyle joined the CoverLink team in 2018 as in intern when he was a junior in high school. Shortly after, he began studying to obtain his insurance license, which he passed in 2020 and joined our Personal Lines division.

Kyle helps individuals and families with their home, auto, umbrella and other personal insurance needs, which he thoroughly enjoys.

In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with the ones he loves, watching sports and playing video games.

 

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Tim O’Rielley

Senior Insurance Advisor

Tim works with individuals, families and businesses to design insurance policies perfectly suited to their specific needs.

He has been working in the insurance industry, and with CoverLink, since 1993. As a lifelong resident of Logan County, he’s been involved with a number of community organizations, often taking the leadership role such as President of the Chamber of Commerce, and the United Way.

He’s often found spending as much time as possible with his two daughters, and his grandkids

 

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Mark Osborne

Account Executive

Mark has worked at CoverLink since 2004. He specializes in life and health insurance, where he utilizes his extensive knowledge to help clients make sense of a confusing and ever changing market.

He also holds the Property & Casualty Insurance License, and often helps families as well as small businesses to set up their insurance protection plan.

Mark graciously volunteers his time to several community organizations, and enjoys spending his free time with his family

 

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Leah Loehr

Account Manager

Leah joined the Commercial Lines division at CoverLink in 2012 where she works closely with business owners on their Commercial Insurance needs to help them achieve their desired level of protection.

Leah is known for her outgoing personality, positive attitude, and relentless pursuit of the goals she sets out to achieve. Clients often rave about her and the service she provides.

In her spare time, Leah enjoys spending time with her family and friends… and she can often be found at the closest Buffalo Wild Wings!

 

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Larry Middaugh

Larry Middaugh, PLCS

Senior Insurance Advisor

Larry joined CoverLink with an extensive background in sales, bringing over 30 years of experience and commitment to taking care of his clients in the banking and mortgage industry.

Larry’s dedication to his clients aligned so well with the CoverLink tradition of relentlessly caring for, and protecting its clients, that he joined the team of Licensed Insurance Advisors in 2015.

Those in need of Personal or Business Insurance are delighted after working with Larry.

Larry defines success as knowing his purpose in life, continuing to grow to reach his fullest potential and sowing seeds that benefit others. He’s a father of three incredible children and husband to an amazing, kind and loving wife.

 

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Tony Fink

Tony Fink, CIC, CLCS

Insurance Advisor

Tony is responsible for serving the needs of individuals and businesses looking for property & casualty insurance. In addition, he’s licensed and capable of advising clients that desire life insurance protection.

He’s a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) and a Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist (CLCS), having successfully completed the rigorous coursework and exams to earn these designations.

Tony entered the insurance industry in 2008 bringing a diverse background of experience and knowledge to his Account Executive position with CoverLink.

In his free time, Tony enjoys spending time with his family, being outdoors, following sports and listening to music.

 

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Meg Barton

Meg Barton

Senior Account Manager

Meg works in the Commercial Lines division at CoverLink as an Account Manager, where she helps businesses with their varying & complex insurance needs, from Business Auto to Commercial Liability, Directors & Officers to Commercial Property.

Meg earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Urbana University in Ohio. She has been active in the insurance industry since 2006, and is an Ohio Notary.

In her spare time, Meg enjoys spending time with her family at Indian Lake, listening to live music and reading.

 

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Jordan Springs

Jordan Springs

Account Manager

Jordan joined the CoverLink team in 2017, bringing top-notch client service skills acquired through several years in the banking industry.

She’s constantly assisting and advising clients on their personal insurance needs – home, auto, jewelry, umbrella and other policies – not to mention, she’s just plain fun to be around!

In her spare time, Jordan enjoys spending time with family and friends, especially her husband and two kids.

 

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Jill Rawlins

Jill Rawlins

Account Manager

Jill works in the Personal Lines Department where she helps individuals and families with their Home, Auto, Umbrella and other personal insurance needs.

She graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in 2009 from Otterbein University, and shortly after began her career in the insurance industry.

In addition to holding the Ohio Property & Casualty Insurance License, she also has her Accident & Health, Life and Variable licenses.

Jill enjoys spending as much time as she can with her family, and especially enjoys being with her little girl who makes her laugh often.

 

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Chris Badenhop

Chris Badenhop

Insurance Advisor

Chris joined the CoverLink team in 2017 with a diverse and exciting professional and educational background. He works with individuals, families and businesses to find the ideal solution for their insurance needs.

He brings a positive attitude and a desire to help his clients in his position as an Insurance Advisor, but most importantly, he shares one of the most fundamental beliefs we hold dear within our organization: he cares. He cares about his clients, he cares about protecting all that’s important to them, and above all, he cares about doing what’s in the best interest of his clients. His enthusiasm and empathy set him apart, and he’s backed by the top-notch service provided at CoverLink, making him a tremendous asset to his clients. In short, Chris puts people before policies.

In his free time Chris enjoys spending time in the outdoors hunting and fishing. He’s also a passionate sports fan devoting support to all levels of play.

 

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Joe Cooney

Joe Cooney

Senior Insurance Advisor

Shortly after graduating from John Carrol University in 2008, Joe began his insurance career. His original focus and expertise was on personal lines and small commercial accounts, but he has since expanded his focus to include Cyber Insurance and Life Insurance, among other products.

Joe resides in Fairview Park, Ohio with his wife Megan and young son Jack. In his spare time, he coaches youth basketball and volunteers for the special Olympics.

 

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Kelli Young

Kelli Young

Director of Marketing

Kelli brings extensive marketing expertise to CoverLink after spending nine years in the automotive industry, where she gained valuable insight in the areas of design, digital presence, and content creation.

After joining CoverLink in 2015, her focus has been on telling the story of our long standing belief, that people are more important than policies, in a fresh way with a digital twist, allowing consumers who believe what we believe to find us easier.

Kelli graduated from Ohio University in 2006 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, and earned her Master’s Degree in Business from Ashland University in 2010.

She enjoys spending time with her family, especially being outside with her son and two daughters.

 

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Jami Radern

Jami Rader

Director of First Impressions

As the Director of First Impressions, Jami brings top-notch client service skills. She’s constantly assisting clients with billing inquiries, working to resolve any frustrating issues they’re having, and she’s just plain fun to be around!

In her spare time, Jami enjoys spending time with family, especially her husband and four children and going on four-wheeling trips together.

Erika Asher

Account Manager

Erika works in the Commercial Lines division at CoverLink as an Account Manager, where she helps businesses with their varying & complex insurance needs, from Business Auto to Commercial Liability, Directors & Officers to Commercial Property.

In her spare time, Erika enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with her son.

 

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Erin Whitaker

Account Manager

Erin joined the Personal Lines division at CoverLink in 2019, as an Account Manager, where she helps individuals and families with their Home, Auto, Umbrella and other personal insurance.

She previously worked in the healthcare industry before getting her insurance license in November of 2018.

When Erin isn’t at work, you can find her cheering on her kids at various sporting events almost every day of the week. In addition, she enjoys planting flowers, finding rusty items to decorate with and spending as much time with her family as possible.

Alissa Grim

Alissa Grim

Account Manager

Alissa works as an Account Manager where she helps individuals and families find the insurance that best fits their needs.

In addition to earning her Ohio Property & Casualty Insurance license in 2008, Alissa received her Life Insurance License in 2010.

In her spare time, Alissa enjoys spending time with her family camping, and watching her son race go karts around the U.S.

Vickie Allen

Vickie Allen

Account Manager

Vickie has worked at CoverLink since 2000 helping clients with a diverse set of needs, from securing the coverage that’s best for their individual situation, to providing guidance when claims or billing questions arise.

Vickie currently holds the Ohio Property & Casualty Insurance License, and is well known to clients because of her infectious personality and radiant smile that greets them when visiting the office.

In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, and traveling.

Randy Leopard

Randy Leopard

Vice President

Randy began his insurance career in 2000 working with both personal and business clients on their health insurance needs.  In 2008, he expanded his area of focus to include all types of insurance his clients needed from home & auto insurance, business insurance and farm insurance.

Randy resides in Urbana where he enjoys spending time with his family, and watching his horses race from time to time.

Melodi Wilkins

Melodi Wilkins

Senior Account Manager

Melodi has called CoverLink her ‘work home’ since 2009.  In her position as a Senior Account Manager, she works closely with clients needing home, condo, renters, auto, umbrella and other types of personal insurance coverage. Melodi also provides service and assistance to businesses regarding their insurance protection needs.

In her spare time, Melodi enjoys being outside and spending time with her family, especially with her granddaughter.

Morgan Edwards

Morgan Edwards

Account Manager

Morgan joined the CoverLink family in 2019, as an Account Manager. She helps her clients with personal insurance needs such as, home, condo, renters, auto umbrella and more. In addition, she works closely with business owners on their Commercial Insurance needs to help them achieve their desired level of protection.

In her spare time, Morgan enjoys spending time with her family and friends, making memories and enjoying all that life has to offer!

Sam Ankrom

Insurance Advisor

Sam joined the Coverlink team in 2020 with a strong passion and drive to help people. As an insurance Advisor with his Property & Casualty license, he assists individuals and business with all of their insurance needs.

He is dedicated to going above and beyond for his clients and wants to make sure every client is not only properly insured, but can also feel like a part of the Coverlink family. Sam is committed to helping everyone feel confident and comfortable with their insurance decisions and have the peace of mind knowing they are taken care of by not only himself, but by the entire Coverlink team.

Outside of work you can usually find Sam spending time with friends and family, or outside on the golf course.