A financial security organisation has sent out an alert to its members about a sharp rise in the number of attacks on the banking sector.
The warning was sent to members of the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, an industry group created to share data about critical threats to the financial sector.
"In the past six months, financial institutions, security companies, the media and law enforcement agencies are all reporting a significant increase in funds transfer fraud involving the exploitation of valid banking credentials belonging to small and medium sized businesses," the alert says, according to The Washington Post.
The bulk of the attacks are coming from sites in eastern Europe, the report claims, and use money 'mules' to process the funds and send them on to the attackers.
The mules are recruited on internet job boards and told that they are processing legitimate payments. They accept the stolen funds and forward on a percentage to other bank accounts controlled by the criminals.
"Eastern European organised crime groups are believed to be predominantly responsible for the activities that are employing witting and unwitting accomplices in the US to receive cash and forward payments from thousands to millions of dollars to overseas locations via popular money and wire transfer services," the alert warns.
The thieves target the controller of a particular small business with a malware-loaded email which then steals the passwords to the company's bank accounts.
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