20 June 2011 | Angeline Albert
Buyers are at risk of losing
millions from fraudsters who claim to represent suppliers, according to KPMG.
The accountancy firm last week
wrote to its clients about the scam, which involves letters to finance
departments “informing” them of a change in banking arrangements. The
correspondence requests a supplier’s bank account details be amended, with
future payments going to a different bank account.
Charlie Patrick, director at KPMG’s
forensic team, which specialises in fraud investigations, said: “I believe this
to be a national issue. I’m aware of certain companies that have lost money – significant
amounts of money involving seven figures. The companies paying the money to the
fraudsters end up paying twice because they pay the real supplier later, too.”
Firms have been advised to adopt
measures to avoid the scam. These include ensuring that correspondence requesting
a change in a supplier’s bank details is confirmed with a trusted contact at the
supplier. Firms’ suppliers should also be alerted to the potential risk of this
scam, including outsourced functions. KPMG warns companies to be wary of providing
details of suppliers, clients or business partners to unknown individuals and supplier
data should not be provided by telephone unless the person calling can be
identified as genuine.
It also advises access to supplier
data should also be restricted to those who require the information to perform
their duties. Businesses must also consider whether the location of the bank seems
appropriate where future payments are to be made.
Julie Bruce, senior manager within
the KPMG forensic team, said: “Often, many businesses who have amended a
supplier’s details do not realise there is a problem until they are chased for
payment by that supplier. A number
of well known organisations have been tricked in this way.”