I receive a weekly email newsletter from Scambusters.org, a public service website. It features a lot of really good information.

In a recent newsletter they addressed the dramatic increase in email compromise scams — where thieves try to trick companies and individuals into redirecting payments to the crook’s own bank accounts. Here actually saying dramatic increase is an understatement – skyrocketed is more apt – because these scams have grown as much as 2200 percent in the past two years.

That figure is based on information from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which shows that between October 2013 and the middle of this year there were more than 78,000 incidents. The cost to the victims is more than $12.5 billion.

There are 115 counties where this activity is taking place but most of it is centered in China, the UK, Mexico and Turkey.

According to the Scambusters report, the main target for email compromise scams is the real estate sector, including title companies, law firms, real estate agents, buyers and sellers.

The IC3 says the scam generally plays out this way, “Victims most often report a spoofed email being sent or received on behalf of one of these real estate transaction participants with instructions directing the recipient to change the payment type and/or payment location to a fraudulent account."

The person receiving the email, is often a homebuyer or their representative, who is asked in one of these fake emails to wire their money – sometimes a down payment or even the entire cost of the house – to what seems like an escrow company.

“The funds are dispersed quickly and in several ways; directed to fake domestic accounts and then withdrawn through cash or checks. The funds may also be transferred to international accounts,” explains the IC3.

Along with being victims, individuals also get hooked into these scams as “money mules." They are people who believe they are working for legitimate businesses in receiving and transferring money abroad, not realizing they are committing a crime.

Whether you’re a business or an individual you should always be a little suspicious of email-only communications. Any request to transfer money should always be double checked with the real intended recipient. So, before you do anything check out all parties to the transaction. Use an outside source for contact information; not relying on what’s provided in the emails.

If you fall victim to one of these scams you must act quickly. Contact your bank or other financial institution that you drew the money from and ask for a recall of the funds. Then get in touch with law enforcement – the best bet is the local FBI office – they’ll work with you and your bank or lender. Also turn to the IC3 at ic3.gov to file a complaint. They’ll also work with the FBI and your financial institution to try to help get your money back.

And to assist us here at the BBB file a Scam Tracker report at bbb.org.

Dennis Horton is director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau.