Sir: Your article ‘Police close in on fraudsters posing as top grocery execs’ (23 February) highlights one example of online scams that are becoming increasingly common.
One of the ways retailers are defrauded is by a fraudster pretending to be one of their suppliers and submitting (usually) an email requesting a change of bank account details, resulting in subsequent payments for goods or services being fraudulently misdirected.
There are still companies that fail to implement the most basic of internal controls to avoid this scam. In the first instance businesses should verify all requests to change standing data including bank account details and set up a procedure involving a nominated employee of the supplier verifying any changes. It is also important to not use any telephone numbers on the email notification as the fraudsters are prepared for this.
Another vital step is to question contact details - some suppliers do rely solely on mobiles, but always try to obtain a landline number, and if the supplier can’t provide one, consider carefully if you wish to do business with them. The scam involves building a credit limit before placing a large order and disappearing without paying.
Additionally, increase fraud awareness across the company: begin with CEO communications outlining the seriousness of the issue and implement a fraud risk management strategy including training employees to mitigate against fraud risks in general. Remember, fraudsters only have to be lucky once, whereas businesses have to be constantly vigilant.
Sterl Greenhalgh, forensic and investigation services partner, Grant Thornton UK