Businesses can be victims too

Fraud damages businesses and can cause huge losses as well as stress.

Humberside Police report that 54% of reported frauds in their area last year were from businesses.  This includes almost £2m lost through mandate fraud, corporate employee fraud and retail fraud alone.

The force has a dedicated Economic Crime Unit, with both detectives trained specifically in fraud investigation, and also financial investigators who follow the money, so that they can restrain criminals and confiscate criminal property.  This unit plays a key role in gathering and developing evidence and intelligence in order to investigate and disrupt complex and serious fraud, money laundering and other financial crime including bribery and corruption.

Since its creation the team have helped to put away a number of high profile criminals responsible for scamming residents and businesses of northern Lincolnshire, Hull, and East Yorkshire out of thousands of pounds.

Detective Sergeant Ben Robinson said

Fraud can have a substantial impact on businesses, no matter what their size.  It can cause serious cash flow problems, reputational issues and can ultimately see companies go out of business.

Small and medium-sized organisations tend to think more about innovation, growth and survival rather than due diligence, internet controls and risk management.  Things that can often seem expensive, hard work and involve a lot of paperwork.  However, this approach leaves businesses particularly vulnerable to fraud, with many owners and managers unaware of the risks their businesses face.

Humberside Police suggests these top tips to prevent your business becoming a victim of fraud:

  • Be sceptical – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Know your business inside out – have a thorough understanding of your business.
  • Know your customers and suppliers – build relationships to help you spot transactions that don’t look right.
  • Identify vulnerable areas – put yourself in the fraudster’s shoes, test systems and train your staff.
  • Develop a strategy and talk about fraud – think about the right fraud prevention and detection strategy for your business.
  • Take extra care against cyber-attacks – back up your systems in case they go wrong.
  • Understand your finances – understand how money leaves your business.  Establish documented internal processes for requesting and authorising all payments and be suspicious of any request to make a payment outside of the company’s standard process.  Always confirm any bank account details directly with the company either on the telephone or in person before you make a payment or transfer any money.
  • Criminals can access or alter emails to make them look genuine.  Do not use the contact details in an email, instead check the company’s official website or documentation
  • Secure and protect your property – this includes laptops, computers, smartphones and intellectual property.
  • Develop an action plan – while prevention is better than cure, it’s important for you and your business to be prepared for the worst.  Having an action plan in place will help limit your losses to fraud.
  • ALWAYS REPORT FRAUD – Action Fraud is the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre.  You can also get information about fraud and financially motivated internet crime.  You can also report fraud to the police if you know the suspect or they’re still in the area. Call 101 to speak to one of Humberside Police’s team.

Image: mohamed mahmoud hassan

Mary Vickers moved to North East Lincolnshire in 2010, from the Wiltshire/Hampshire border, to become Urban and Industrial Chaplain NELincs. Made redundant in 2017, she's maintained many of her connections within the business, faith, and other local communities. She's also decided to stay here rather than return to either the south or her husband's native Yorkshire, so that she can continue to enjoy and help promote the positives of NELincs.