The owners of a local building company are warning other businesses to be extra vigilant after they were targeted in a sophisticated impersonation scam, which saw fraudsters intercept more than £130,000 in invoice payments.
Sharing their experiences with the Jersey Fraud Prevention Forum, the owners, who wish to remain anonymous, said they were left reeling when they realised their email correspondence with a customer had been hacked and payments diverted to a scam bank account.
Luckily, after taking swift action, the owners were able to recover all their money, but they want to make sure other islanders don’t fall victim. They hope to raise awareness about this type of fraud in the Forum’s newsletter, which is being distributed to all local households this month.
Forum Chairman, Chief Inspector Chris Beechey says islanders need to keep alert, particularly during these uncertain times and in the run-up to Christmas: “This company was fortunate to recover the money, but we are seeing more and more of these impersonation scams and other islanders may not be so lucky. It’s not just businesses that need to be vigilant; all of us need to be. Fraudsters are taking increasingly sophisticated steps to try to trick us, posing as organisations and people we know. As many of us continue to face challenges posed by the coronavirus, coupled with the potential stresses of Christmas, we want to remind islanders not to drop their guard. We’re appealing to everyone to stay alert and report any new frauds and scams, no matter how small. Even if you don’t fall victim, by notifying us, our members or the Police, you could prevent someone else from
being caught out.”
£1 million lost in fake transactions in the Channel Islands
In 2019, consumers that brought complaints to the Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman lost more than £1 million to authorised push payment scams. This is when fraudsters persuade victims to transfer large amounts of money upfront to their criminal accounts in return for goods and services that don’t exist or the customer never receives. Scammers usually target their victims through scam text messages, also known as smishing.
If you are asked to make a bank transfer in advance of receiving a product or service, remember:
- Be wary of offers and goods that seem too good to be true
- Do your checks and make sure the people you are talking to are legitimate
- Always use a secure payment method
- Contact your bank immediately if you think you have been caught out
Jersey Fraud Prevention Forum issues educational newsletters across the island twice a year to raise awareness about current scams targeting local residents, in particular the elderly and vulnerable. Its latest newsletter focuses on Christmas specific scams relating to online shopping and digital gifts.
On 19 November, the Forum will host its second webinar for the public, this time focusing on Black Friday and Christmas scams. During the one hour session, forum members will share advice on how islanders can protect themselves and report these crimes.
To read the Forum’s newsletter and for more information about the webinar, click here.