Between October 2013 and February 2016, 17,642 global businesses collectively lost $2.3 billion to business email compromise scams, whereby cybercriminals pose as company executives, attorneys or reputable vendors to trick employees into transferring corporate funds into fraudulent accounts, according to the FBI.

In an alert issued yesterday by the FBI's Phoenix division, the agency said it has recently observed a “dramatic increase” in these scams, which are often pulled off by spoofing legitimate email accounts or via social engineering. More specifically, in 2015 the FBI saw a 270 percent increase in complaints from victims of this breed of crime.

The FBI advised readers that these scams often attempt to spear phish specific employees who typically handle and manage corporate funds, and also tend to target businesses that work with foreign suppliers or regularly perform wire transfer payments.