Combatting Company Impersonation and Online Fraud

Online Fraud

The number of online scams targeting organisations and individuals has dramatically increased over the past couple of years. From phishing emails from contacts who are “stranded” and need money, to email tax rebate notifications, SMEs are being targeted more than ever.

The latest scam increasing in popularity is company impersonation and requests to change bank details. Although not a new technique, this scam is making a comeback, and can result in businesses paying large sums of money to the wrong person.

How the scam works

You receive a letter, seemingly from a supplier, asking you to change/amend/update their bank details for future transactions. The correspondence will appear genuine but, in reality, it has come from fraudsters.


The extent of the scam usually isn’t realised until the genuine supplier chases your accounts payable department for a missed payment. By this time, funds will have already left your bank, and can be very difficult and costly to recoup.

Protect yourself

Below are a few simple steps to avoid falling foul of this online fraud:

  • Compare letterheads from previous communications. Try and spot differences, however small they may seem.
  • Check the contact details on the communication. Are they consistent with prior correspondence received?
  • Call your supplier using details previously supplied, not the details given on the “fraudulent” correspondence.
  • Ensure that strict sign off procedures are in place internally and that more than one person reviews any changes.
  • Share your knowledge with your employees and your suppliers. The more people who are aware of how this type of fraud is committed, the easier it will be to detect.

For more information about company impersonation and other types of fraud, plus top tips on how you can protect yourself and your business, download the Metropolitan Police’s Little Book of Big Scams – The Business Edition.

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