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24 B Dick St, Cambridge

The Invoice Scam – Alive and Well

I’ve written about The Invoice Scam before but it’s in the news again. In this case an unsuspecting family has lost $53,000 intended to pay for the construction of a new childcare center. The Invoice Scam is so problematic because of the big sums of money involved. Scammers target people who are paying large invoices and the money is often whipped off overseas before your bank or the Police can do anything about it.

This is how it works: the scammer tricks you into depositing money you intended to send to someone else directly into their bank account instead. There are a few ways this can happen:

  1. You receive an email requesting that you update the bank account number for a company or individual that you do actually owe money to, or who you pay money to regularly
  2. You receive an invoice from a new company or individual for a product or service you legitimately used, but the invoice is fraudulent. Or the bank account number has been altered

This is some extremely clever scamming. The scammers tend to go for particular industries who they know deal in large amounts of money. For example a few years ago the horse racing industry in Cambridge was targeted. You are most vulnerable to this scam when paying someone for the first time.

Here is Kerrin’s advice:

  • Independently verify new bank account numbers via a legitimate phone or email, ideally with a photo of a bank deposit slip
  • Beware of requests to change an existing bank account number
  • Checking the legitimacy of an email you’ve received via the same email address is not sufficient; the scammer will be happy to follow up with further friendly emails
  • If you receive an invoice you weren’t expecting, do not pay it until you’ve determined what it’s for and that it’s legitimate
  • Be especially wary when paying large amounts
  • If you think you might have fallen victim to an invoice scam contact your bank and then us ASAP