Checks, Spreadsheets Expose Firms To Growing Fraud Risk

Corporate fraud continues to plague businesses large and small, and in this week’s B2B fraud tracker, many of the latest cases of nefarious activity within the enterprise can be traced back to the continued use of paper and legacy systems.

The biggest story this past week, of course, was the revelation that as much as $2.1 billion may be unaccounted for on the books of Germany payments company Wirecard. Though there is no evidence of any accounting fraud, the company warned late last week that it is possible the firm may have become the victim of “fraud of considerable proportions,” adding that there is indeed evidence of “spurious balance confirmations,” according to Reuters.

As the story unfolds, it will continue to become clear that even the largest companies with the most resources to digitize and combat fraud are not immune to the risk — from both within and outside of, the organization.

1 in 10 small businesses are able to cover more than 50 percent of fraud losses, the latest research from Bottomline Technologies revealed in its Bottomline 2020 Business Payments Barometer report. The company found that 58 percent of U.K. financial professionals say losing money due to fraud is simply “part and parcel of running their business.” Coronavirus-related scams are on the rise, too, researchers found. Worse, between 2019 and 2020, total financial losses increased by 14 percent, while lost time increased to 38 percent as a result of fraud. At the same time, the percentage of companies that say they have been impacted by fraud actually declined year-over-year.

37 percent fewer BEC attacks targeted the C-Suite in Q1, according to new data from Abnormal Security. But don’t let the good news fool you: just because business email compromise scammers may not be targeting c-suite executives doesn’t mean their fraudulent crimes are easing. Indeed, survey respondents showed a 28 percent quarter-over-quarter increase in the size and frequency of BEC attacks, as well as a 17 percent jump in BEC attacks targeted at large organizations and sent to at least 10 recipients. According to Abnormal Security Vice President Ken Liao, attacks targeting accounts payable departments are now more favorable than those targeting C-suite executives. “The AP people are lower in the organization, but they still have the ability to make large payments,” he said, according to Dark Reading reports. “The criminals impersonate the vendor by folding into the natural workflow.”

$74,000 was sent to a fraudulent vendor by one Irish company last week, according to law enforcement officials and reports in The company reportedly send the funds to a recipient in China for a piece of machinery. Experts warn that such Vendor Email Compromise scams are on the rise amid the pandemic: “We have seen an increase in invoice redirection fraud in the past three months, which has been ramping up due to COVID-19,” warned Smarttech247’s Raluca Saceanu, the publication said. “It’s one of the biggest risks of 2020 because it is quite a lucrative business for cybercriminals.”

$1.4 million was allegedly forged in company checks by an accounts officer at a family-owned Singapore-based business, Straights Times recently reported. According to reports, the individual is alleged to have committed 52 acts of check fraud between 2011 and 2017, stealing company cash to finance his gambling activity. While the company’s internal policies required to authorized signatures on each company check issued, the individual would reportedly take blank checks home and forge those signatures. He would subsequently forge invoices to cover his tracks, the reports allege, highlighting his use of Microsoft Excel to create those false bills.