B2B Payments

Report: One In Seven UK SMBs Hit By Invoice Fraud

In the UK, invoice scams are still gaining traction, and significantly so among smaller firms, according to Barclays.  Elsewhere, in North America, finds another study, complacent thinking seems to leave smaller firms vulnerable to online fraudsters.

Barclays said this week that as many as one in seven small businesses (SMBs) have been victimized by invoice fraud within the past 12 months. As reported by BusinessNewsWales, the data from the bank also showed that about 28 percent of those scams led to those firms losing as much as £5,000 ($6,625 USD).

The report found that the scams may have been prevented with a bit of additional effort, as Barclays noted that only 25 percent of SMB employees double-checked the invoices with others at the firm. As much as 24 percent of respondents said they “trusted” the email addresses tied to the invoices.

Barclays added that 18 percent of SMB executives had to cover the costs incurred by the scams. Yet, only 19 percent of those executives said they hold “invoice training” to spot those fake invoices, and only 24 percent of SMBs said they would call the suppliers ostensibly requesting payment to ascertain the payment was genuine.

In other news, the firm Emailage has estimated that 48 percent of 1,000 smaller firms surveyed in the United States and Canada think they are “not big enough” to be attacked by fraudsters — which means, as Small Business Trends reported, that complacency is a risk to those same firms. That comes against a backdrop where smaller firms reported losses, averaging about $28,313 last year.

Emailage CEO Rei Carvalho said in a statement, “This research shows a lack of concern among many SMB owners when it comes to fraud prevention. These businesses work with considerably smaller profit margins. Therefore, losing even a fraction of their revenue could have major repercussions for their businesses, impacting long-term growth and business development.”

The data also showed that 10 percent of firms had no systems in place to ward off and protect against such online fraud attempts.

In Texas, as reported by ABC13, Jennifer LaBarge was arrested for allegedly stealing more than $800,000 from what was described as a “small, family owned rig company” called Polar Rig Specialties. LaBarge, through a scheme that stretched out over several years, used the firm’s QuickBooks to pay credit card bills, auto loans or other personal expenses, changing details to look like the company’s vendors had been paid.

As part of a plea deal, she has paid $500,000 to the company and, after being released from jail, will pay the remaining $358,000. The sentencing also includes 10 years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service.

Separately, in Nebraska, the state auditor has accused a healthcare provider CEO of misusing company funds. The CEO, William McInnis, who helmed the East Central District Health Department and the Good Neighbor Community Health Center, resigned amid accusations that he had fraudulently spent company money on hotel and car rentals, and meals.

In the continuing saga surrounding German payments firm Wirecard, according to Reuters reports this week, the company maintains that an internal probe into its Asia-Pacific operations has exonerated a manager’s actions tied to accounting. The company is also awaiting the results of an outside investigation by Rajah & Tann, where 2018 reports from publications such as the Financial Times said the company had recorded fake transactions that, in turn, boosted reported revenues.

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