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In 2019, UK Finance issued data that indicated 26% of large businesses have fallen victim to invoice fraud, despite 84% not fully understanding what invoice fraud actually means. With the ever-growing sophistication of fraudsters, finance teams need to look beyond their ERP to fully safeguard their business.

Conviction of Evaldas Rimasauskas; Manhattan

Using imitation email addresses, Lituanian national Evaldas Rimasauskas successfully defrauded US tech giants Facebook and Google out of a total $122 Million Dollars. Rimasauskas did this by sending fake invoices that were disguised as coming from a common supplier, Quanta Computer Inc, based in Thailand. This demonstrates that even the largest corporations can be conned by a committed fraudster.

Former city official steals $74,000, New Jersey

James Colucci, the former Assistant Director of a municipal office in New Jersey is to stand trial for fraudulently invoicing the city figures in excess of $74,000. His crimes are alleged to have taken place between December 2017 and February 2019, where he used the names of two fake companies and a false name to file the documents. It is said that the average fraud case runs for two years before detected.

A-1 Janitorial; US & Canada

In December 2019, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) mailed more than 30,000 cheques averaging $86 to refund victims of an invoice fraud scheme from A-1 Janitorial. The firm had offered businesses across the US and Canada a free sample of a cleaning product, then billed those companies for the full cost. The invoices they sent would call out an employee by name, increasing the likelihood the recipient would pay. Any companies that did pay were then sent more unordered products, followed by additional invoices.

Jennifer LaBarge and Polar Rig Specialties, New Caney

In Texas, a woman stole more than $800,000 from family-owned rig enterprise, Polar Rig Specialties. In the scheme that went on for several years, in which she had gained her employer’s complete trust, LaBarge used the company’s QuickBooks Account to pay auto loans, credit card bills and other personal expenses, changing the details to make it look like standard vendor payments. The actions of this lone employee damaged the entire company’s reputation and lost the business a total sum of nearly $1 million.

Naked Security; New York

Cyber Security publication “Naked Security” fell victim to invoice fraud that ran for a period of four years. A former IT executive established a fake shell company and used it to pose as a legitimate supplier. This enabled him to generate fraudulent invoices and process payments to his own bank account. The company eventually caught the employee out by tracing metadata in Microsoft Word documents, by which time the fraud had amounted to a cool $6 million.

In Summary

Invoice fraud can happen to any business, even to the most tech-savvy of enterprises. The victims listed in this article include some of the world’s biggest companies – it only takes a clever scammer with a sophisticated strategy to cut through. The vast majority of invoice fraud cases, including those above, could have been prevented by the implementation of intelligent protection software.

If you are looking to employ the latest AI to protect your business against fraud, please get in touch and we can arrange a personalised demo with you. 

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