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Fraudsters target small businesses using invoice scams

Rachel Thomas

One of our local business contacts was recently the victim of a sophisticated invoice scam.  The scammers had clearly done their homework, and had researched the company thoroughly.  The fraudsters emailed one of their customers who owed them a large amount of money and doctored an invoice they had sent to the customer adding ‘new’ bank details.  The customer, believing the email to be genuine, payed the money they owed (several thousand pounds) into a bogus bank account. 

Action Fraud has confirmed that this type of scam is on the rise.  They say: “Criminals are researching the existing suppliers of companies through publicly available information and then contacting the business either by phone or written correspondence pretending to be their supplier and requesting that payment details are updated. With companies routinely asked to change or update payment details, the request seems perfectly reasonable but when the money is processed, it is sent to an account held by the fraudster.”

Action Fraud warns people to be on alert if they receive a call asking them to update their payment details.  They advise: “If you’re not sure who you are speaking to, call the company on a number you know and ask to be put through to the person who you’ve spoken to before.  If you’re unsure about the validity of an invoice, call a contact who you know at your supplier to check its authenticity.”

To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040