ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Friday June 24, 2016 – The Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP) is warning Antiguan businesses to guard themselves against scammers who are re-directing payments from customers to other bank accounts.
The ONDCP has received reports from local businesses that their customer invoices have been intercepted and emailed to their clients with substituted bank account information, allowing the funds to be directed into accounts set up by the fraudsters.
“It would appear that businesses affected have had their computers or email accounts hacked, enabling the interception to occur and the fake invoices to be sent in place of the real ones,” the ONDCP said, noting that the fraud is not usually detected until the customer is alerted by complaints from suppliers that payments were not received.
It explained that scammers were hacking into vendors’/suppliers’ email accounts and obtaining information such as customer lists, bank details and previous invoices. Then, purporting to be a business’ supplier, the scammer sends invoices to businesses and requests a change to usual billing arrangements and asks for the money to be transferred to a different account, usually by wire transfer.
“The email may look to be from a genuine supplier and often copies a business’s logo and message format. It may also contain links to websites that are convincing fakes of the real company’s homepage or links to the real homepage itself,” the ONDCP warned.
It therefore urged businesses to be vigilant
It said it was best for businesses to establish anti-fraud measures that independently double check if a regular supplier provides different bank account details for the payment of invoices.
Vendors and suppliers who send billing instructions via email are also encouraged to establish verification protocols with customers for any changes to email and payment details.