* indicates required

Online scams ‘becoming ever cleverer’, firms are warned

Mazars, which has an office in Milton Keynes, is advising its clients to improve their internal control systems, in particular with regard to IT and payment systems.

In a typical new scam, the finance department receives a request via e-mail, seemingly from the chief executive or other senior officer, ordering a payment to be made urgently.

Bank details are provided by the perpetrator on the e-mail but the originating e-mail address is a bogus account set up to look like the e-mail address of the CEO. 

In the blink of an eye, warns Mazars Milton Keynes office managing partner Stephen Eames, money has been taken.

Cyber crime is the fastest growing type of fraud, he added. “The sums involved are vast and even the most worldly-wise can be taken in. Scams can happen to anyone so it is well worth getting in the professionals to run a health check on your firm’s internal controls.”

Among the best known mass market ones are:

Phishing An email scam that tries to lure the unwary into clicking on links within emails that open bogus web pages designed to look like genuine banking sites.

The ‘bank’” then asks you to enter your security details, leaving you open to theft from your account.

ID fraud Alone it costs the country nearly £3 billion a year. Criminals obtain your security details through a variety of methods – online and offline – then steal from your credit card or bank account, or buy goods and services using your money.

Advance fee fraud It has many guises but all have the aim of enticing victims into paying smaller amounts upfront in the hope of winning vast riches later.

Boiler rooms High-pressure telephone salesmen sell worthless, overpriced or even fictitious shares to investors looking to make a quick killing. UK victims are estimated to lose around £200 million a year.