When imitation isn’t the sincerest form of flattery


Upon hearing of a spate of fraudulent impersonation attempts in the sector, Norman Chambers, Managing Director at the NACFB examines this rising imitation game and advises on how to protect your business


Last month the fraud prevention body Cifas warned that identity fraud has now reached “epidemic” levels – with almost 500 cases reported every single day in the UK alone.

The first six months of this year saw a record 89,000 cases of identity fraud, which typically involved impersonation in order to steal people’s money, buy items or take out loans or auto insurance in their name.

In the pre-artificial intelligence era, the bread and butter of our businesses relies on people interacting and sharing sensitive information daily. In our world of Commercial Finance Brokering these relationships are nurtured and built over many years, but how can you be sure the person you just received an email from is the same one you saw the day before?

Sadly, cyber-criminals are relentlessly targeting consumers and businesses, and the vast amounts of personal data that is available either online or through data breaches is only making it easier for fraudsters. Financial fraud losses in the UK totalled £768.8m in 2016, up 2% on 2015, according to Financial Fraud Action UK.

Fraudsters need just three pieces of information to steal your identity – and most can be found on Facebook and other social media websites – we must all be alert to this threat and do more to protect personal and business information.

To this end, we have highlighted common scams we think our Commercial Finance Broker members should be mindful of:

  1. Sometimes fraudsters will pose as a boss of a company instructing staff to make a wire transfer into the fraudster’s account. These attempts will often happen on a Friday afternoon pressuring staff to make a quick decision before the weekend begins.
  2. Fraudsters can also pose as the IT services department of a Lender saying they want to make a test transfer – but it is rarely a test. If Lenders ask for such information speak with your familiar contact first before issuing any funds.
  3. Fraudsters claim to be a supplier and ask for outstanding invoices to be paid into a new bank account. If it’s a new bank account that funds will be transferred to, a combination of due diligence and common sense can prevent costly errors.
  4. You and your employees should always be aware of clicking on links within emails. Such phishing scams often containing malware which authorises many small payments to the fraudster’s account.

The NACFB encourages all of its member Brokers to remain vigilant, only issue payments to trusted sources, and if you have even the remotest element of doubt – trust your instincts.