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Spoof email scam hits businesses

Marc Crosby 23rd Oct 2015 No Comments

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Scammers are always coming up with new and more sophisticated ways of getting their hands on cash which isn’t theirs.

Take a look at this new scam for example, discovered by Financial Fraud Action UK.

Fraudsters are sending spoof emails to workers impersonating senior members of the company, such as the finance director or chief executive.

They then ask the worker to transfer them money, usually saying it’s an urgent circumstance such as it’s needed to secure a new contract.

Spoof email scam hits businessesHowever, of course, the payment is made is to the fraudsters account and they then withdraw the money straight away.

What’s worrying is how convincing this scam can be. Fraudsters use software to manipulate the characteristics of an email so it looks genuine – it includes the correct sender’s address and looks like an email a worker really might get from a senior member of staff.

Sometimes fraudsters are even able to hack the actual accounts of members of staff, often on web based servers.

The crooks are able to get all the details they need about the company from publicly available information.

Thankfully Finance Fraud Action UK has some top advice on avoiding this scam:

    • Always check any unusual payment requests directly, ideally in person or by telephone, to confirm the instruction is genuine. Do not use contact details from the email.
    • Establish a documented internal process for requesting and authorising all payments and be suspicious of any request to make a payment outside of the company’s standard process.
    • Be cautious about any unexpected emails which request urgent bank transfers, even if the message appears to have originated from someone from your own organisation.
    • Ensure email passwords are robust.
    • Consider whether the email contains unusual language or is written in different style to other emails from the sender.

Katy Worobec, Director of Financial Fraud Action UK, says “Fraudsters will do all they can to make these scam emails look genuine, so it’s important for businesses to be alert.

“While an urgent request from the boss might naturally prompt a swift response, it should in fact be a warning sign of a potential scam.

That’s why it’s vital that finance teams carefully check any unusual demands for payment through an alternative method, such as over the phone or face to face, before making the payment.”

Have you received this email or been affected by something similar? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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