Scarlet Widow scammer group shifted focus from ‘Romance scam’ to ‘BEC scam’
- Scarlet Widow's new BEC scam targets small-town schools, charities, hospitals, churches, and universities.
- This BEC scam sends phishing emails to staffs purported to be from their Boss and requests them to buy Apple iTunes or Google Play gift cards.
Worth noting - Researchers from Agari noted that the Scarlet Widow scammer group has shifted their focus from ‘Romance’ scam to ‘Tax Refund Diversion’ fraud to ‘Business Email Compromise’ scam.
Why it matters - Scarlet Widow’s new BEC scam targets small-town schools and school districts in Indiana and Wisconsin, universities in the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand, charity organizations, hospitals, and churches.
The big picture
- In this BEC scam, scammers send phishing emails to staffs of targeted schools, universities, or non-profit organizations.
- The phishing email purports to be from their Boss or senior staff requesting the recipients to buy Apple iTunes or Google Play gift cards.
- The email urges them to buy the gift cards and send them the snapshots of the back side of the gift cards which contains the redemption codes.
- Once victims send the snapshots of the redemption codes, the scammers will trade the gift cards on Paxful, a legitimate US-based peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange to convert the gift cards into bitcoins.
- The bitcoins are then sold by the scammers for cash received via bank transfers.
What did the email say - Researchers observed one of the BEC scam phishing emails which had a subject line as Greetings and the body of the email read,
“I have my hands fun and I need something taken care of first thing in the morning. I Will need to head to the store and purchase ten pieces of 100 usd Google play gi ft cards.. I need this treated as urgent* so once you do, email the pics showing the codes at the back . We will go over the details first chance i get tomorrow.. Let me know when you are available to take care of this,” Agari researchers noted.
The bottom line - Researchers noted that in such type of scams involving gift cards, scammers eliminate the need for an intermediary to receive and redirect the stolen funds.
Such sophisticated BEC scams continue to evolve and pose a significant threat to businesses across the world.