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Different methods of fraud.

This is the first in a three part series on stop fraud
The methods we will be covering have been brought to our attention by our clients and not by the national press.

These methods of fraud are real and unfortunately some of our clients have fallen victim to these scams over the last few weeks.

Fraudsters are turning to increasingly sophisticated methods in order to deceive and are often quick to adapt their approach to keep up with changes in technology.


There has been a rise in a fraud involving changing the bank account details of genuine suppliers in an attempt to divert funds. This successfully being carried out by fraudsters, including a successful attempt on a government organisation.

Impostors purporting to represent genuine suppliers approach target organisations with requests to change bank account details held on file. Baker Tilly have recently noted an emerging variation to this fraud involves fraudsters remotely seizing control of legitimate suppliers’ email accounts from which they send these seemingly genuine requests to change details. With control of the email account, the perpetrators are then able to set up ‘rules’ within the account settings which enable them to intercept and/or delete further incoming emails from the target organisation. This not only enables the fraudster to monitor and respond to the email correspondence, but it also allows the fraud to go undetected by the supplier.

This fraud exemplifies how, with undetected control of the email account, fraudsters were able to gain access to a copy of an invoice which had previously been emailed by the genuine supplier. Once picked up, the invoice was altered by the fraudster with new bank account details in an attempt to legitimise funds being paid into a fraudulent bank account. Fortunately, the organisation identified the fraud before any financial loss occurred; however, this example demonstrates that even with certain controls in place, organisations can still be vulnerable to this type of scam.

Clearly linked to this is the increasing occurrence of cyber-attacks in conducting fraudulent activity, such as in this case, through the ability to compromise an email account. Such attacks often bypass more common ‘manual’ anti-fraud measures and can be difficult to detect. Moreover, the frequency of cyber fraud in general is increasing at an alarming rate. The losses which can be incurred should an organisation fall victim to this type of fraud are significant. Baker Tilly is aware of payments exceeding many of hundreds of thousands of pounds, with a number of instances exceeding £1 million in losses.

What action can you take to mitigate risk of this fraud occurring?

As fraudsters continually develop and apply new methods to circumvent controls, it is essential for organisations to assess the effectiveness of arrangements in place relating to administration procedures for changing both supplier contacts and bank account details.
We recommend some actions that organisations can take include:

  • Thorough testing of administration and authorisation procedures in relation to requested changes to supplier details of any kind
  • Independently verifying requested changes to supplier contact or bank account details with the original supplier contact prior to any change being made
  • Where possible, gaining additional confirmation of the legitimacy of requests from a known source or reliable contact before applying any changes
  • Ensure robust IT security controls are in place to help mitigate the risk of a successful cyber-attack, and
  • Ensuring that staff working in relevant areas are fully aware of the risks involved with this type of fraud

Bevan & Buckland Accountants Swansea Tel: 01792 410100

Bevan & Buckland Accountants Haverfordwest Tel: 01437 760666

Bevan & Buckland Accountants Pembroke Tel: 01646 682383

Bevan & Buckland Accountants Carmarthen Tel: 01267 233115