An Eastbourne business lost £18,900 after a fraudulent email, claiming to be from a senior manager at the firm, asked for cash to be transferred into another bank account.
The money was transferred by staff and withdrawn from the account in cash, from a bank in the north of England.
It was only later that staff realised the request was not authorised and that both the email address and the account had been set up for the fraud.
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.
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 online reporting form at Action Fraud online http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or phone them on 0300 123 2040. But if the crime is happening to you right now, or if you are at all vulnerable, dial 999 to contact Sussex Police.
FFA UK can also be contacted via http://www.financialfraudaction.org.uk/
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