Impersonation fraud on the rise

Ryan Bembridge

September 4, 2018

Small and medium sized businesses are increasingly falling victim to impersonation fraud – where criminals impersonate suppliers, bosses or business contacts to defraud companies out of money.

The research from Lloyds Bank and Get Safe Online found there’s been a 58% rise in this type of crime in the year to date.

Law firms were found to be the most susceptible, followed by HR professionals, IT workers and finance companies.

The average loss incurred is £27,000.

Gareth Oakley, managing director of Business Banking at Lloyds Bank, said: “The rise of impersonation fraud is a very concerning issue for small and medium-sized businesses.

“We know that falling victim to these types of scams can be serious as the impact extends beyond just the financial implications.

“This is why we’ve teamed up with Get Safe Online – to help educate business owners and employees on how to recognise these scams and take the right precautions to protect themselves.”

Get Safe Online and Lloyds Bank have launched a video on the subject to raise awareness on social media with ‘lookalikes’ of Gordon Ramsay, Richard Branson and Karren Brady.

The video (pictured) depicts the impersonators, dubbed the ‘fraudstars’, demonstrate the ways in which scammers can dupe companies into making payments, based on real-life scams. (Watch the video below)

Tony Neate, chief executive of Get Safe Online, said: “The most effective way to ward against these fraudsters is to double check the details.

“Verify any requests for amended payments to an organisation directly using established contact details.

“If you’ve received a suspicious email, always check with the person you believe sent it by asking in person, phoning them or using a different trusted communication method.”

Business email compromise, where scammers intercept a legitimate email trail and change the beneficiary bank account details, is an increasingly common method of impersonation fraud, according to Lloyds Bank.

This is especially dangerous as fraudsters can change information in a genuine email thread, therefore there are no other warning signs.

As email is not a secure method of communication, so any change of details or financial information should always be double checked with a trusted contact.

Other common techniques used in impersonation fraud are:

Changing bank account details – where scammers pose as suppliers or other contacts and notify victims that their bank details have changed and get businesses to make payments to the fraudsters bank account (commonly known as invoice fraud).

Phishing – sending emails, texts or voicemails purporting to be from a reputable company to get individuals to reveal personal information

Fake emails pretending to be your boss or other senior colleagues – emails set up to look very similar to legitimate emails, which are sent to try and trick the recipient into paying funds to a fraudulent account

Social engineering – the act of manipulating or tricking people into certain actions including divulging personal information or financial information.

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