In the past year, more than 5,000 people have been tricked into transferring money to criminals rather than the company they intended to pay. This commonly occurs when emails are intercepted between customer and supplier, or when letters are sent out using fraudulent letterheads.
Having hacked into the customer’s email account, the fraudster will send a message - which appears to come from the supplier - confirming that the supplier’s bank account has changed. The messages will appear authentic, and may be received at a time when a customer is expecting to make a payment. The new bank account details will, of course, be under the control of the fraudster and once diverted, the funds are lost and the customer is out of pocket.
Criminals are also sending letters purportedly from the suppliers containing a change of bank account request. Very often, the attention to detail will mean that people are deceived into thinking the letters are genuine. They may contain the exact letterhead of a supplier, and the signature may be the same.
There has been a 70% increase in this kind of fraudulent activity in the last 12 months. In some cases, people have been duped into paying relatively small amounts to criminals, however in the most serious of cases, homebuyers have sent deposit monies to criminals rather than their solicitors and this has amounted to losses of thousands of pounds.
How to protect yourself from a bank account scam:
- If you receive a request by e-mail or letter notifying a change of bank account details, always verify the position directly with the supplier over the telephone.
- Do not rely on any contact details contained within the e-mail or letter. Instead, use their established contact details.
- Do not transfer any funds until you are completely satisfied that the notification you have received is genuine.
Please note that Nockolds will never send an e-mail to you confirming that we have changed our bank account. Please contact us immediately if you receive any such notifications.
And finally, do remember that email technology carries some inherent risks, with potential security being one. Make sure that you have the most up to date security software and always treat unexpected emails about transfer of funds with suspicion.