"CEO Fraud" in a Nutshell

What is it about?

Also known as "Fake President Fraud" or "Business E-mail Compromise". It is a fraud scheme with a pronounced psychological element. The fraudsters pretend to be the CEO, CFO or a third party (e.g. business partner, consultant, solicitor, etc.) of the company.

Warning signs

  • the "attack" usually occurs on a Friday
  • large number of phone calls/e-mails in a short period
  • high (time) pressure put on the employees
  • high psychological pressure: secrecy, importance
  • and urgency (e.g. strategic investment)
  • publicly available information are misused

Attention: Once the money has been transferred, it might be distributed to several other bank accounts, and it will be withdrawn by the fraudsters within the same business day.

Facts & Figures

Example: France:

  • 15,000 corporates
  • € 465mn damage
  • biggest individual case: € 32mn in damage
  • further € 830mn prevented damage
  • 1-2 attacks per day

How does it work?

0. "real" CEO is absent (e.g. business trip/holidays)

1. Alleged CEO (= fraudster) contacts (from manipulated e-mail address!) the target person and requests an urgent transaction under strict secrecy. Furthermore a confirmation by a third person is announced.

2. Solicitor/business partner/consultant (= fraudster) also contacts the target person and verifies the previously announced transaction.

3. Typical victims are employees from treasury/accounting/payments.


CEO Fraud


Tips to protect yourself


  • Question transactions to unknown/new accounts with untypical country codes for your company
  • Do not get unsettled and stick to the usual processes (e.g. four-eyes-principle)
  • Stay calm and question the trustworthiness and plausibility of the statement/information/e-mail
  • Get in contact with the CEO under the known and registered phone number and get a confirmation for the process
  • (also during the holidays!). Eventually pre-agree an emergency password!
  • Check the e-mail address/header for irregularities (e.g. firstname.secondname vs. firstname_secondname)
  • Attention: spam filters do usually not protect!



For questions/suspicions please contact your Relationship Manager or RBI Group Financial Crime Management:


We are pleased to check and validate your suspicion quickly.

"CEO Fraud" in a Nutshell