Evolution of Bank Heists 

Robbery to Business Email Compromise (BEC)

The heist movie has been a staple of the action genre ever since The Great Train Robbery debuted back in 1903. The crime has often been depicted as a high-reward venture that just requires a clever plan and the right gang of skilled criminals. As is often the case, the Hollywood portrayal does not accurately depict reality.

the great train robbery newspaper ad

Bank robberies are a crime on the decline. From 2017 to 2020, the FBI reports that the amount of thefts has dropped from 4,000 to roughly 1,700. The cause is a simple one: the risk far outweighs any potential reward. The average robbery earned the perpetrator only $4,213 for their crime. Taking the money is one thing, but getting away with it is another. In 2017, a staggering 86 percent of bank robberies were solved, one of the lowest success rates of all crimes. The low payoff, coupled with jail time being all but certain, has made it so that thieves have changed their methodology for finding a way to get their hands on your money.

While heists have become a rarer occurrence, cyber-crime is growing astronomically. Internet scams now outnumber robberies 500 to 1, with nearly 7 billion dollars being lost across 800,000 occurrences. This number is on the lower side of estimates too, as not all cases of fraud are reported (unlike bank robberies, in which all are). On top of this, the FBI reported that business email compromises (known as BECs) were the most successful form of cyber-crime, with losses totaling 2.4 billion dollars.

Thieves have modernized the way that they are gaining access to your money.  Sophisticated criminals are not trying to emulate Point Break or Oceans 11.  They are accessing your counter-party’s email and socially engineering you into sending them huge sums of money.

Criminals have adapted to the times, and so should your business.