27 March 2019

Four in 10 businesses are not aware of invoice fraud, yet in 2018 this type of fraud cost firms a whopping £93m according to the trade body, UK Finance.  And although around one third (£29.6m) of these fraud losses were returned to business customers, that still means invoice fraud criminals got away with over £60m.

‘Invoice fraud’ is the term used when criminals pretend to be a regular supplier and persuade a business owner to change the bank account details they use for paying the genuine supplier.  The money then goes straight into a criminal’s bank account. 

Of 1500 firms interviewed, only half (55%) of sole traders and two thirds (68%) of small businesses were aware of invoice fraud and the risk to their business. 

Hair salons, beauty salons and barbershops are at high risk of being targeted by scammers

Hilary Hall, chief executive of the NHBF said, “As sole traders or small businesses, hair salons, beauty salons and barbershops are at high risk of being targeted by scammers.  A recent survey of our members confirmed that cyber crime is on the rise, with over half of salons surveyed reporting credit/debit card fraud, phone call scams, phishing emails, ransomware attacks and viruses.  Invoice fraud is yet another example of increasingly sophisticated attacks on salons.  Fraudsters can be very convincing, so if someone contacts you by phone or email asking you to change a supplier’s bank account details, be suspicious.  Use the contact details you already have to do an independent check yourself with the supplier, don’t use a phone number or email address given to you by someone else.”

To prevent invoice fraud, UK Finance suggests that if you are making a payment to an account for the first time, transfer a small sum first and then check with the company, using known contact details, to check the payment has been received.