Located in North Carolina, Cabarrus County recently saw themselves become a victim of the ever-popular BEC scam. Scammers identified as outside contractors for the crew building the new high school sent emails to school and government officials. Emails received by these entities stated that account information for the Branch and Associates was changed and the county was suggested to use it for further payments. Documentation that could pass as legitimate was also included in the emails. Due to the fact that these types of requests are quite common, the county did not question it and sent their next payment. This led the scammers to acquire over $2.5 million to one account which was dispersed out into numerous accounts. The mistake was noticed after a missed payment alert was received from Branch and Associates on January 8th, 2019. SunTrust Bank was notified and Branch and Associates also informed Bank of America of the fraud. Bank of America was able to freeze more than $776,000. This amount was paid out to Branch and Associates on March 20th, 2019 and the county paid off the additional amount on May 22nd, 2019.
It is always important to double-check the sender’s email address. If it is not one that is familiar it should not be opened. Employers should make it clear to their employees that they should verify any requests for money or other sensitive information. Face-to-face confirmation or a phone call to the verified number that has been used in prior transactions should be done in order to make sure the request is legitimate.