(KPTV) - The FBI has warned about an email scam that costs the U.S. billions of dollars each year.
On Friday, they spoke about the scam at a roundtable discussion in honor of National Stem Day.
The FBI called it one of the biggest threats in the world of cybersecurity as we head into 2020.
The scam is called Business Email Compromise.
This year alone, the FBI said criminals have scammed businesses and individuals out of around 26 billion dollars.
The FBI said this is a difficult scam to catch and can force businesses to close its doors.
They said it works when cyber-criminals pick a target and gather as much information as they can. It can be a business or a person dealing with large amounts of money.
They then send an email, looking like an official email coming from within the company, or from someone a person has been working with.
They say it usually presents a change to some form of payment, a timeline and a consequence if that timeline is not met.
Aaron Cole said he was in the process of buying a new house when he got an email that looked exactly like the ones, he'd been using to discuss the sale.
It had wire instructions and Cole took it to his bank, wiring 125,000 dollars.
Then, a week later, he found out the email was fake.
“With the amount of money that was lost, I couldn't even afford to buy my house back. And, it was about a week before my son's fifth birthday. So now all of a sudden, we just went from getting ready to move into our newer, bigger nicer house, to I just gave away all the money we ever built in equity in that house,” Cole said.
Cole lost the 125,000 dollars but said luckily the financial group they were working with managed to work out a deal to get them into their new house.
The FBI said it's important to look at the small details in emails about sensitive financial information.
And be wary of emails that list consequences for not wiring payments in a certain time.
The FBI said it's also important that victims of crimes like these reports it as soon as they can.
They said once the money has been wired out of the country, they usually can't get it back.
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