Home Money I almost lost thousands of pounds in a supplier invoice scam – these were the red flags that helped me spot the scammers

I almost lost thousands of pounds in a supplier invoice scam – these were the red flags that helped me spot the scammers

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Saagar Patel almost fell for invoice scam after scammers urged him to update payment details

A dentist and business owner almost fell for an invoice scam that would have “devastated” his business.

Saagar Patel, who runs Dentristry100 in London, received a call from someone claiming to be a long-standing provider who needed to be paid.

They explained that there had been fraudulent activity on his account and that Patel would need to change his payment details to pay, and urged him to make the payment over the phone.

Saagar Patel almost fell for invoice scam after scammers urged him to update payment details

The scammer convinced Patel as they accurately referred to his details, including the bank he used and the merchant account sort code.

While he was working, Patel wrote down the new details for the supplier.

When the scammer called again and asked him to make the payment, Patel became suspicious and hung up the phone.

He called the company directly to request the change and quickly discovered that he was moments away from being scammed.

Although I had updated the details of the new account, fortunately I had not completed the payment.

“I was almost a little embarrassed at the time because I always thought I wouldn’t be a victim of a scam like this,” he said.

“If the scam had been successful, it would have been truly devastating to the business.”

He says if the scammers had been successful he would have lost around £3,000.

Patel is one of more than 40 Santander customers known to have been targeted by this type of scam in 2024 so far, with a total attempted value of more than £1.3 million, according to the bank.

In an invoice or mandate scam, the victim attempts to pay a bill to a legitimate beneficiary, but the scammer intervenes to convince them to redirect the payment to an account they control.

They often pose as conveyancing solicitors or estate agents with new bank details provided to complete the purchase of a property, or who receive a false invoice from a supplier.

Sometimes, scammers may even work as employees who have requested to change their banking details for their next salary payment.

Patel says he remembers being asked unusual questions like: “Do you have enough money in your bank to pay?”, “Are you going to make the payment now?” and ‘Are you going to stay on the phone to make the payment?’

This type of fraud typically involves intercepting emails or compromising an email account; UK Finance research shows that 80 percent of scams originated via email.

While the number of invoice scam cases fell by 7 per cent, from 3,340 to 3,110, their value rose from £49.5 million to £50.3 million, according to UK Finance.

Santander warns its customers to be careful when paying suppliers and third parties, reminding people to “never feel pressured to make a payment.”

Chris Ainsley, Director of Fraud Risk Management at Santander UK, said: “Criminals are using payment redirection scams, also known more simply as ‘redirect scams’, to siphon millions from UK businesses every year. anus.

“Even if it is from a third party or provider they know very well, businesses should take extra care to verify legitimate contact details and make sure to dispute any request by contacting your current service provider or a contact number you have used to them before, to check if it is genuine.

‘Do not use the contact details from the email or letter as this could lead you to check with the scammer.

“If businesses believe they have been victims of a redirect scam, they should contact their bank as soon as possible.”

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How to keep your business safe from invoice scams

Santander warns its business customers about payment redirection scams. Here are some of their top tips for protecting yourself:

  • Before paying a new invoice or changing existing data, be sure to confirm the request directly with the company or colleague. Always call a known and trusted number, one from their direct website, or ask in person if possible.
  • Never respond to requests via the email address they came from or use any contact details in the letter or email.
  • Set up a single point of contact for the companies you pay regularly.
  • Review your payment approval process and use dual authorization for an extra layer of security.
  • Please review payments due at a future date when the account details have been changed to confirm that the request is genuine.
  • Stop and take some time to think about what they are asking you to do. Never feel pressured to make a payment.

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