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Businesses warned of payment diversion fraud

A campaign to warn small and medium businesses about payment diversion fraud was launched on Tuesday (26 October) by the National Economic Crime Centre.

Businesses warned of payment diversion fraud
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  • Keeli Cambourne
  • October 27, 2021
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PDF, also known as Business Email Compromise or Mandate Fraud, involves criminals impersonating others, creating or amending invoices and diverting payments to bank accounts under their own control. This can target both businesses and individuals.

PDF involves criminals deliberately targeting a specific individual. As a result, individual losses can be significantly higher than for many other types of fraud.

In the year to September 2021 there have been 4,600 cases reported to Action Fraud, with individual losses averaging around £30,000.

Businesses are particularly impacted with annual spikes in these frauds occurring in March and November, timed with financial year ends.

“Payment diversion fraud is increasing and it is vital that people are alive to the threat. Small and medium sized businesses are most at risk due to less comprehensive IT security, but these criminals will also target home-buyers due to the scale of the transactions,” said Jon Shilland, fraud threat lead at the NECC.

“Whenever you are making a payment to a supplier, or to your solicitor in the case of a house purchase, you should be highly suspicious of any change in account details or new instructions. Always check with a trusted known contact, and if you have any doubt do not transfer the money.”

Temporary detective inspector Dan Parkinson, from the City of London Police, said criminals will often create fake e-mail addresses that are very similar to genuine business or customer addressees and send over fake invoices to make it more believable.

The campaign will work with Federation of Small Businesses and the British Chambers of Commerce to promote advice to businesses, and with the Law Society to highlight the risks to conveyancing.

Businesses and home buyers are advised to protect themselves by, double-checking the payment request via an additional method using details from another source (such as text message, a phone call or in person).

If you think you may have already been a victim of Payment Diversion Fraud, act fast. Immediately reporting the incident to your bank and Action Fraud (0300 1234 2040 or gives you the best chance of recovering your funds. If reporting in Scotland, please contact 101 and your bank.

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