Businesses being increasingly targeted by scammers

BUSINESS OWNERS AND EMPLOYEES in Moray are being urged to show extra caution against fraud and electronic crime as the north east has been targeted by a series of scams.

Letters and email alleged to be from partner companies are arriving at businesses requesting payment to accounts that are actually in the control of fraudsters.

While several methods are used to fool unwary businesses the basic methods being used by the scammers is similar – and previous warnings have not stopped the practice, with one company in Aberdeenshire transferring £20,000 before the scam was discovered.

Email addresses similar to those used by authentic companies are being sent and then followed up by further requests that are in reality an attempt to distract company employees and managers from noting irregularities.

PC Kev Marron from the Police Scotland crime reduction unit commented: “These types of crimes can have a devastating effect on a company’s finances and new scams are appearing all the time.

“We would urge any company who receives any communication requesting unusual financial transactions, however small, to conduct a thorough investigation. Employees should contact the person or company representative who is making the request on a confirmed telephone number to ensure the situation is legitimate.”

Another known scam method appearing in the region is where company voicemail facilities are being compromised and used to call premium rate numbers over a weekend.

Known as the ‘business telephony fraud’ company systems are hacked and used to either redirect calls or to dial premium rate numbers, with the resulting revenue paid to the criminals.

PC Marron said: “It is not unusual for businesses to receive silent or suspicious calls before falling victim to this fraud, as the fraudsters are trying to note business hours so they can set up their hack after hours.

“Not surprisingly, this fraud is often carried out over a weekend so the criminals evade detection and make optimum financial gain.

“Businesses should ensure their telephone systems are secure and passwords are not on default settings. Losses can be in the thousands, so it is well worth the time and expense to implement or improve security.”

Any company which has fallen victim to, or is suspicious of fraud should report it to Police Scotland and as soon as possible by calling 101.