B2B Payments

Ireland’s Growing Invoice Redirect Fraud Problem

Authorities in Ireland have warned businesses about a rise in “CEO fraud” that gets unwitting victims to pay up in invoice redirect fraud. Separately, individual cases have shows the impact of invoice fraud on businesses as disparate as healthcare companies and feed stores.

In Ireland, authorities have warned of a growing problem with invoice and payments fraud. As reported in TheJournal.ie, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau said that, thus far in 2019, there have been more than 130 reported cases of what is termed “invoice redirect” or “CEO fraud,” through which money is diverted from unwitting victims. The Garda reported that the losses exceed  €4.4 million (nearly $4.92 million USD), with half of that stolen in April alone.

Through the mechanics of that fraud (which has siphoned funds from businesses as far-flung as hospitals, schools and hotels), the firms get emails or calls from someone posing as a legitimate supplier. The imposter asks the company being victimized to change bank account details ostensibly related to the supplier. The subsequent payments for seemingly legitimate invoices are then sent to the scammer’s bank account.

Detective Chief Superintendent Pat Lordan of the Garda said earlier this month that invoice redirection is among the fraud techniques most commonly used.

In some cases, he added, criminals also employ a tactic known as CEO or CFO fraud. Through this method, the bad actors impersonate executives who ask for money to be wired, and the requests take place when the real executive is, in fact, out of the office.

“When the CEO comes back from holidays, the guy or girl in the office says, ‘By the way, I looked after that while you were away,’ and he goes, ‘What?’ And that’s the first they know they’ve sent the money to the wrong account,” Lordan said, according to the site.

The scams have also been easier to perpetrate due to the extensive availability of information on social media. Of the ill-gotten gains mentioned above, the authorities have managed to recover 1.3 million euros.

Separately in Atlanta, Georgia Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner Jim Beck pleaded not guilty this past week to money laundering and fraud charges. He had been indicted by the U.S. Attorney for ties to a scheme (done before assuming his current position), where Beck allegedly deployed shell companies and invoices to siphon off $2 million from insurance companies.

“In beginning of 2013, Mr. Beck convinced four of his associates to create four separate businesses with the alleged purpose of supplying Georgia Underwriting Association with services,” said U.S. Attorney B.J. Pak for the Northern District of Georgia, as reported by 11 Alive.

The shell companies were used to create false invoices, which directed funds to the fraudsters. The money that was allegedly siphoned off — during the time that Beck served as general manager of operations for Georgia Underwriting Association — had been used to pay personal credit card and tax bills.

In Colorado, a former employee of a feed and ranch supply company has been charged with stealing more than $20,000. The former employee, Dolores West-Burris, allegedly bilked the Hy-Way Feed and Ranch Supply business in Silt by creating a fake accounts receivable, and by refunding items that were never bought to her own credit cards. Other activities put cash refunds on her credit cards, according to the Post Independent.

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