I have heard from a number of clients over the last year, or so, who tell me that they have been the victim of schemes to defraud them. I believe it is important that I share them with you.
The phony invoice
You will receive an invoice addressed to your firm or company, usually by mail, sometimes by email, for a product or service rendered. The name of the company billing you is a well known brand name that you are certain you recognize. It is only upon closer inspection of the name that will you notice that there is a slight variation in the spelling or address. It could almost pass for a typo but it is not of course. It will include an itemized description, though not always, and an address to send payment to. The amount due is usually kept to between $1500.00 – $2000.00 so as to make it easier to slip thorough your check run without undergoing too much scrutiny.
Be sure to alert your accounts payable department to look out for these. Double check the names on invoices carefully, as well as the products or services itemized. They may even reflect your usual purchasing activities so beware.
Request For An E-Transfer
The second scheme involves a request for invoices to be paid via an E-Transfer. Such a request might even actually refer to legitimate invoices for genuine services rendered by a bonafide supplier of yours. The danger lies in that this request is coming from an imposter who has acquired information about your accounts payable and is now attempting to misdirect your payment. This will leave the payor with a situation where he now has to make the payment again – this time to the legitimate creditor. Using E-Transfers for payments is now very common, I regularly use it myself as does our law office. It is a terrific, inexpensive and easy way to send funds but as in all financial transactions it behooves us to check carefully before hitting that “confirm” button.
Make sure the company name is properly spelled and that the email address given for payment also matches what you were previously given. Do you know the individual making the request? If the person is unknown to you don’t just assume that it is a large organization so it is probably alright. Confirm the details with your contact.That extra step will always be worthwhile and might save you or your company from suffering the fate of a company our law office had to deal with. They lost a substantial amount of money when they were misled in exactly this fashion.
Once the fraudster has the funds deposited into his or her account it is quickly moved out and is almost impossible to trace. So please beware. As they say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.