Businesses are being urged to stay vigilant when paying their bills or changing supplier, as new data from Barclays reveals that in the last three months, fraudsters stole the most money from SMEs through invoice scams.
Invoice scams are when fraudsters divert genuine invoices or payment instructions sent by email, often from a familiar supplier or contact, and send a replica email with the with bank details changed to an account controlled by them. Barclays data has shown that this type of scam accounted for 55% of all money lost by SME clients in the last three months, up 6% year-on-year, with an average loss of £2,100.
The overall amount stolen from SMEs has gone up 13% over the last year, despite the volume going down, indicating that scammers are succeeding in fewer, higher value scams, and business owners are at risk of making greater losses.
A recent poll of UK businesses reveals that 85% are worried about the effect the upcoming price hikes and increased operating costs will have on their business. 56% said it will have an impact on their bottom line.
85% said they would be willing to switch to a supplier they haven’t heard of before if they were offering a better price. Barclays is warning business owners to be on their guard as they look to switch suppliers to find the best deal, as fraudsters may impersonate suppliers and provide updated bank details or information for payment.
Whilst invoice scams have been the most profitable for scammers in the last three months, purchase scams, where businesses buy items that do not arrive, were the most common type. This was followed by impersonation scams, where fraudsters pretend to be from trusted organisations.
Joe Cooksey, head of business digital education at Barclays, said: “Businesses are under a huge amount of pressure at the moment as they prepare for the new financial year and navigate additional challenges wrought by rising costs. We know that fraudsters will be looking to take advantage of busy business owners and will ramp up their efforts.
“Scammers really are social engineers of the highest order, so it’s vital that business owners and their staff remain vigilant, and if doubt, double check with their bank or a source they know is genuine.”