Business fraud warning after East Sussex firm loses £18,000

Police are warning businesses about a current type of fraud which might affect them after an East Sussex firm lost £18,000.

Last month a firm of accountants in Eastbourne received an email purporting to be from a senior manager at the firm, asking for £18,900 to be transferred into a specific bank account.Police sign

This was done and only later did it turn out that the request was not authorised and that both the email address and the account had been set up for the fraud.

The money was taken from the account in cash from a bank in the north of England.

Financial Fraud Action UK advise that the fraudsters use special software to make the message appear genuine.

This type of scam has been dubbed “whaling” fraud, as it targets the so-called big fish of business.

The emails request that urgent payments are made outside normal procedures, often for a pressing reason, such as the need to secure a contract.

When the money is transferred, it goes into an account set up by the fraudsters.

“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,” said Katy Worobec, director of FFA UK.

Staff are being advised to:

  • check unusual payment requests in person, or by phone.
  • not use contact details provided on such emails
  • be cautious about unusual transfer requests
  • consider whether the language used in the email is unusual, or different to that usually used by
    the sender.
  • ensure email passwords are robust

There have been no other reported examples in Sussex so far but police are warning firms to be on the alert.

They say scam letters, emails, telephone calls and faxes of different types are sent out in their thousands daily to individuals and companies worldwide.

If you have been a victim of fraud, please report it online or by phone to Action Fraud.

Action Fraud is the UK’s national fraud reporting centre and the place for you to report fraud and scams, or to get advice if you’re not sure what to do. Contact them by completing the reporting form on their website or phone them on 0300 123 2040.

The police add that if the crime is happening to you right now, or if you are at all vulnerable, dial 999 to contact Sussex Police.

Financial Fraud Action UK can also be contacted.

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