Firms under attack from phishing and business scams

11 Jul 2008

Businesses are increasingly coming under attack from fraudsters and scam artists using everything from false invoices to phishing to steal their hard-earned cash.

International business directories, false invoices and phishing are particularly problematic for small and medium enterprises experiencing business scams and fraud, according to a crime survey released by ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprise Association.

Phishing involves fraudsters attempting to fool email recipients into submitting their login details to a fake website and using those details to access people’s accounts and defraud them.

The survey confirmed that some 69pc of businesses had been the target of a scam in the past 12 months, an increase of 16pc on 2007. Overseas offers, business directories and Lotto winnings are the three most prevalent scams being attempted.

ISME chief executive, Mark Fielding, said the association had received an increased number of calls since the start of June from companies inundated with pseudo requests, spurious invoices and sham deliveries, in the mail or over the internet.

He urged companies to be especially wary of any unsolicited correspondence received in relation to non-existent professional guides and internet directories.

“In the past couple of weeks, numerous companies have received invoices and ‘update’ requests from companies based in Switzerland, the Netherlands and Spain. This information is sought ostensibly to update a directory and states that updating is ‘free of charge’ but eventually leads to a request for payment, once returned to the directory company,” he said.

Scams are more prevalent during the summer holidays, as fraudsters are aware that, in many cases, senior management may be out of the office leaving more junior staff to make decisions.

Fielding said the sophistication, extent and frequency of business scams is rising and recommended the motto ‘when in doubt don’t pay out’ should be applied, particularly for all suspicious invoices.

By Sorcha Corcoran