Western Australia’s commissioner for consumer protection, David Hillyard, said that businesses frequently transferring large sums of money, such as car dealers and other businesses selling high-value items as well as real estate agencies, are a particularly strong target for scammers.
According to Mr Hillyard’s office, the unnamed dealership received an invoice with correct details following a purchase from a supplier. But the trouble came a week later when the business received an email directing the invoice be paid into a new bank account.
In an attempt to validate the request, the car dealership asked that the request to incorporate the new bank details be made on company letterhead, which was subsequently done.
Verbal confirmation was also sought, but the contact number went unanswered, and the invoice was then paid.
It was only when the legitimate supplier later contacted the dealership to chase the outstanding bill that the scam was detected.
“All businesses need to be alert to attempts by scammers to intercept payments that flow to and from their accounts and ensure their email accounts and computer systems have security software to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of hacking,” Mr Hillyard said.
“Closely scrutinise all invoices and query any changes to ensure that the payments are going to the correct accounts. Get a verbal confirmation of email requests to change the bank account details of suppliers and clients and ensure all staff members are aware of the anti-fraud procedures and the importance of adhering to them without exception.”
He added: “Sometimes the accounts staff will get a fake email purporting to be from the business manager requesting an urgent payment be made to a particular bank account belonging to the scammers. If a request seems unusual or strange, query it and confirm it before paying.”
The loss comes amid a series of warnings from the ACCC about fake invoices and overdue payment notices circulating nationwide.
It said that fraudsters have been impersonating a number of high-profile companies and government agencies including Telstra, Optus, the NBN, Microsoft, and the myGov portal, with losses surpassing $4 million so far in 2018.