Researchers have spotted a new business email compromise (BEC) trend that, if perfected, could represent a significant social engineering threat to the financial investment and private equity community.

The scammers are impersonating c-level executives and instructing accounts payable employees to complete a capital call transaction to a fraudulent bank account. In the world of private equity and real estate, a capital call or draw down takes place when an investment or insurance firm asks one or more partners to pay a portion of the money that they have previously committed to investing.

In an email fraud report published yesterday, researchers at Agari's Cyber Intelligence Division (ACID) noted a "dramatic increase in the average amount of money targeted in BEC attacks" since November 2020. The report partially attributes this sudden spike to the newly identified scheme. Indeed, Agari found that the average capital call payment scam seeks roughly $809,000 in wire transfers -- more than seven times the average $72,000 sought in most BEC attacks over the last six months.

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