According to Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK), there has been a rise in the scam over the past two or so weeks.
A number of UK SMEs have lost sums of money ranging from £10,000 to £20,000 as a result of the scam.
In a typical situation, staff in the finance department will receive an email which they believe is from one of their senior managers.
The criminals use a special type of software to make the message appear genuine.
The request in the email demands that a payment should be made outside of regular processes. The reasons for such a transfer would be for something pressing, such as securing a new contract.
The scam has been named ‘whaling’ fraud. This is because it targets the ‘big fish’ of business.
The money is transferred to an account that’s set up by the fraudsters.
Director of FFA UK, Katy Worobec, said: “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.”
Office workers are advised to:
- check in person, or by phone, with the person who requested the transfer
- refrain from using the contact details used in said emails
- remain cautious when unusual transfer requests are received
- consider if the language use is different to the sender’s usual tone
- make sure email passwords are robust.