Study Finds Half Of UK Firms Vulnerable To Invoice Fraud

Invoice fraud is on the rise in the UK, with half of all businesses exposed, according to a Santander study.  Separately, a US college campus takes note of phishing scams and  Cisco may have been bilked out of more than $9  million amid wire and supply chain fraud.

Invoice fraud, where emailed requests trick employees of various firms into sending money to scammers’ bank accounts, has been making the rounds in the United Kingdom.

According to research from Santander Business, as much as half of all U.K. firms are vulnerable to that type of fraud. As reported in LondonlovesBusiness, a significant number of companies do not conduct basic due diligence when it comes to making sure the requests are genuine. The data shows that only half of business owners check the details.

Amid those who said they check the requests, two-fifths noted that they call the number associated with the email — which, of course, leaves them open to being fooled by fraudsters who impersonate legitimate businesses. As much as 39 percent said they would “agree” to pay money into new bank accounts if requested through emails ostensibly tied to accountants.

As reported, invoice fraud remains among the fastest-growing conduits to fraud in the region, and UK Finance reported that it ranks as the third most-common fraud type, known as “authorized push payment” ruses. As much as £49 million (just over $64 million USD) were lost to invoice fraud, as measured through the first half of last year.

Separately, as reported by the Rollins College (based in Orlando, FL) newspaper The Sandspur, phishing scams have been evidenced, as would-be bad actors are impersonating senior staffers at the college, intending to steal money. Professors have been receiving emails that purport to be from other professors. Those emails are complete with digital signatures, and list all the impersonated parties’ information. In one case, a scammer asked for help via text message to purchase iTunes gift cards.

Investigations found that the scammers had been operating out of Japan, but the phone numbers appeared to come from Denver, with the help of an IP address that masked the original provenance of the message. Just over 400 incidents of phishing were reported on campus last month alone. Some communications impersonated the current college president, according to reports.

In terms of individual company news, a former Cisco Systems employee was arrested earlier in the week in San Francisco. Former Global Supply Chain Director Prithviraj R. Bhikha was accused of bilking the company of as much as $9.3 million through a program he had set up to find and commission third-party vendors, amid deal-making for products used in Cisco manufacturing efforts. Cisco had wired millions of dollars to entities that had been established by Bhikha, and he allegedly tried to enlist peers — including at least one co-worker — in efforts to falsify documents, according to Yahoo Finance.

Elsewhere, The Wall Street Journal noted that Baton Holdings, a successor to Bankrate, has agreed to pay as much as $28 million to settle accounting fraud investigations that found illegal activity from former executives.

The settlement was announced this past week by the U.S. Department of Justice. The company admitted that executives inflated earnings and used what is known as “cookie jar” accounting to reverse expense accruals. As reported, Bankrate’s former CFO Edward J. DiMaria, and its former VP of Finance Hyunjin Lerner, pleaded guilty in that effort and were sentenced to prison.