Small businesses are being warned they are a major target for criminals trying to defraud them out of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Financial Fraud Action UK’s (FFA UK) intelligence bureau has reported an upsurge in invoice fraud and phone fraud. Because fraud is not always detected immediately, stolen funds are often quickly transferred outside of the UK making it near impossible to get the money back.

To combat this, FFA UK has launched a major awareness raising campaign to educate businesses about the dangers and to advise them on how to avoid falling victim to these frauds. These are available on the FFA UK website

Invoice fraud

How the scam works – Criminals research the existing suppliers of companies through publicly available information and then contact the business pretending to be their supplier and requesting that payment details are updated. When the money is processed, it is sent to an account held by the fraudster. 

How to prevent it – You should immediately be on alert if you receive a call out of the blue asking you to update payment details. If you’re not sure who you are speaking to, call the company on a number that you know, and ask to be put through to the person who you’ve spoken to before. 

Phone fraud

How the scam works – Criminals research companies and then call them armed with information which makes their approach sound more credible. They will then lure the company owner or employee into revealing financial information or convince them to transfer money into a different account under a false pretence – such as to help prevent fraud identified on their bank account.

How to prevent it – You should immediately be suspicious if you get a cold call and are asked a lot of questions relating to your company’s financial information. There is no legitimate reason for the police or your bank to ask for your four digit PIN, or to ask that you transfer or withdraw money, or give your card to a courier for them to collect. 

Katy Worobec, Director of FFA UK said: “Criminals are turning their attention to businesses because successfully scamming a company can net the fraudster a much bigger haul than they could steal from an individual. Fraudsters also understand that small businesses are used to process all kinds of payments and so a simple request to change an invoice or provide some financial information has a good chance of deceiving an accounts department.


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