The Analysis and Investigation Unit (AIU) of the Financial Investigation Agency (FIA) is raising the alarm over a substantial surge in a business email compromise scheme which is presenting a grave threat to the real estate industry.

Business email compromise entails unauthorized access to email accounts for various illicit activities, including unauthorized fund transfers, confidential data theft, and other malicious actions.

According to the FIA, the scheme is being orchestrated by unidentified individuals who are capitalizing on legitimate businesses and individuals’ identification, resulting in significant financial losses for victims.

“The AIU has observed a noteworthy increase in such incidents, with cybercriminals leveraging these schemes to compromise email accounts for fraudulent activities, leading to substantial financial losses,” the FIA stated.

The real estate industry, given its involvement in high-value transactions, is increasingly becoming a prime target for these cyber threats. In response to this growing menace, the AIU has issued a set of immediate recommendations for reporting entities within the real estate industry to fortify their defences.

These include: Strengthening network security by implementing robust cybersecurity protocols, including advanced firewalls and intrusion detection systems, to safeguard sensitive financial information; Conducting regular training sessions for employees to enhance awareness about identifying and reporting suspicious emails; Verifying the authenticity of messages and email addresses, particularly those related to financial transactions or sensitive information; and Enforcing two-factor authentication on email accounts as an additional layer of security.

Additionally, businesses are encouraged to: Conduct periodic security audits to identify vulnerabilities promptly; Communicate with partners, clients, and vendors, to raise awareness about the ongoing scheme; and Report Suspicious Activities to the FIA since timely reporting is paramount in the swift response to an investigation of these types of cyber threats.

The AIU advises that by adopting these immediate actions, the real estate industry can enhance its resilience against the evolving landscape of cyber threats.