Types of Business Fraud: is Coronavirus Causing a Change in Targeted Acts?

Fraud happens all the time, and there are many different types in business. To find out what these are, and how the Coronavirus is exacerbating it all, read on…

Fraudulent acts are not a new thing. Ranging from doorstep mischief, to phishing emails and text messages, all the way to money laundering, there are hundreds of ways fraud can emerge.

With our current global situation, fraudsters and scammers are taking advantage of everybody’s vulnerable situations. Serious fraud office investigations have visibly increased, showing that this is certainly not a time to look the other way!

If you want to hear more about how your business could be attacked by fraudsters, inside and outside the business, you came to the right place. Here, we’ll be discussing the types of business frauds out there, and how to protect yourself from the increase in scams.

What is Fraud? Categories of Fraud to Look Out For
There are a huge number of different types of frauds in business that a company could be exposed to. That said, it’s not just fraud from outside the company that needs to be avoided. Fraud and scams within a company are also part and parcel of owning a business too. Here is a list of some of the most common types of business fraud to watch out for…

Outside of the Company
Starting with fraudulent acts coming from outside the company, the list is pretty extensive. Some typical scams, which will come from the outside in, include:

Corporate Identity Fraud
The most common type of fraud, which most of us have all experienced, is identity fraud. I’m sure you’ve received a suspicious text message or email from your bank, for example, claiming your account had been closed for security reasons? The text will usually ask you to click a link and fill out your details to sort it.

Well, this is a classic case of fraud; where someone impersonates a legitimate business to obtain money, goods, and services from unsuspecting victims. In extreme cases, the fraudster may even change details of the business on Companies House to fit their agenda.

Business Directories
There are a number of directories out there, which have a confirmed list of businesses and their contact details. That said, if you receive a suspicious email or letter asking you to confirm your website and details, this might be worth avoiding. Signing forms like this can commit you to spending a lot of money, unknowingly, with little to no reward.

Invoice Fraud
Invoice fraud occurs when you receive a fraudulent invoice from a supplier, which could be either genuine or fake. Some classic invoice fraud examples include:

· The supplier or scammer might inflate the payment price to gain more money.

· A fraudster may impersonate a company in an invoice so that you send money their way instead.

· An employee might set up a dummy supplier, for their own personal use, and send invoices their way through this account.

Premium Rate Fraud
This is when a fraudster hacks into an organisation’s phone system, and makes a high volume of calls to a premium-rate number. This sort of scam usually fools small businesses, schools, and charities.

Leasing Scams
This type of fraud usually occurs in person, and typically involves a sales-person who requires a signed contract on the door. The goods you sign up for could range from technology, telecommunications equipment, photocopiers, or printers. In any case, the items are usually expensive, and there’s normally a recurring maintenance service attached to it.

Although the initial idea might seem pretty good, the business is often tied into a long-term contract they cannot escape. The pricing of the goods and services may be inflated over time, arbitrarily, as part of the deal. What’s more, the contract may be ceased at any point, when the supplier moves on to something different; it’s all out of your control.

Cash Larceny
This occurs when an unauthorised person collects cash which should have gone to a business. This is one of the most difficult types of fraud to uncover, mainly because they’re so ahead of the game. They’ve tracked where the cash will be before the business gets to it, or has it recorded, so cracking this nut is tough.

Support Publishing and Advertising
A business can also be fooled by faux publishing or advertising companies, offering a space in a publication. The publication, fake or not, will usually rope you in through their association with a big company or charity. They might say that a certain proportion of the money goes towards a charity, but it’s usually minimal.

In most cases, the publication is unlikely to be published at all, leaving the company high and dry. Otherwise, if it is printed, the audience is unlikely to be relevant or local, and will be a real waste of cash.

Unnecessary Services
As a new business owner, there will be a lot to navigate, including licenses and contracts. In these cases, and when a new business owner is still finding their feet, it can be the best time to scam them.

Firstly, scammers can get business owners to pay for services that they simply don’t need. They can also fool them into signing contracts to avoid penalties that don’t exist. Some fraudsters may even offer to organise all of this for them, taking money from them for no reason!

Alternatively, where a legitimate fee or penalty is concerned, fraudsters might set up a fake website, claiming to be for that particular service. Whatever it may be, the goods and services are certainly not worth the buck.

Unsolicited Goods
Scammers might also choose to send goods by post to a company, which they didn’t order. Then, after enough time has passed for the business to have used or disposed of the item, an invoice is sent through the post.

Investment Scams
Scammers often assume that business owners will have a high income, so will invest wisely with their money. So, a business owner is the perfect person to target to trick them into investing in a dud.

Investment scammers will convince the business owner to invest in something high-risk, with the promise that the returns will be great. In some cases, the investment is genuine, but the risks are not properly communicated to the recipient. In other cases, the investment is completely bogus, and the money disappears to the scammer.

Within the Company

Insider Fraud
Insider fraud occurs when a former or current employee steals, destroys, or alters company information for personal gain. This could involve threats, blackmail, or collusion with someone else.

Cheque Fraud
A fraudulent cheque is anything that has been either altered, for example the name of the recipient has been changed, or it’s been forged completely. This can then be used to gain unsolicited money from the company.

Payroll Fraud
Payroll fraud can occur in a number of different ways within a company. For example:

· An employee might ask for an advance on their pay without paying it back.

· An employee could lie on their timesheet about how many hours they’ve worked.

· An employee could ask a co-worker to clock in for them even when they’re not actually in work.

Financial Statement Scam
This sort of scam ranges from different types, but is essentially the misrepresentation of a company’s financial state. This could include concealment of assets or an overstatement of profits. Generally, though, this could cause the most long-term damage to a business.

Is Coronavirus Changing the Scammer Game?

With everything going on right now, scammers are taking advantage of the vulnerable situation we all find ourselves in. Whether it be approaching elderly people at their front doors, or inflating prices to profit from the economic downturn, it’s everywhere.

Because of this, it’s really important that company owners, and individuals, remain especially vigilant. Any suspicious phishing emails or texts must be looked at twice, any door salespeople need to be questioned or ignored entirely, and so on. So, what are some of the main ways you can protect your business from Coronavirus frauds?

Ways to Protect Your Business from Coronavirus Fraud
In general, there many ways you can make sure your company is as safe as possible from being targeted by fraud. Especially now, with a rise in scams being reported whilst many of us work from home, it’s paramount you take actions to avoid being targeted. Some classic ways to do this include:

· Securing important documents, cheques, and chequebooks in safe places;

· Maintaining strong passwords and PINs throughout the company;

· Instilling a password policy throughout the company;

· Never pre-signing documents or cheques;

· Ensuring the office building is secure at all times;

· Record details of everything that has gone in and out of the business, particularly money;

· Make sure to shred any important information, rather than binning it;

· Make sure to check your company’s registered details regularly, and make sure your business identity is confirmed under the relevant government agencies;

· Don’t share valuable information, like bank details, on your website;

· Make sure to screen all new staff as they come in, including cleaners, reception staff, and contract staff;

· As soon as a person leaves the company, make sure all their access is terminated;

· Make sure to thoroughly check all invoices before paying them. Check to ensure they are genuine suppliers, and the amount is correct; 

· Perform a security audit;

· Educating yourself and your employees on scams;

· Making sure to scrutinise any online requests;

· Make sure to block all scam emails and premium-rate numbers;

· And monitor all calls to ensure strange activity is detected.

Don’t Fall for Fraud!
Feeling ready to tackle the hackers, scammers, and fraudsters out there? With all this information about the types of fraud and how to avoid them, we hope you feel a little bit more in-the-know.

Have you had any experience in dealing with fraudsters in your business? Let us know in the comments below! Did you fall for the scam, or did you spot it before it was too late?


  1. Sadly, it's the businesses that can least afford it that the fraudsters target because they know their security checks are weaker.

  2. This is interesting! I've heard about a rise in coronavirus threats. Worrying when people already have so many concerns :(

  3. I work in a GP surgery, and the fraudulent emails and texts and started very quickly for many of our vulnerable patients, targeted texts with a link to click supposedly from their surgery, fortunately a lot a patients rang to confirm if it was from us, but I'm sure there were some who fell foul to it, and it was across all of the local surgeries too. It amazed me how quick off the mark the scammers were!

  4. Interesting read.

  5. Very interesting. I didn't know about the phone hacking, so thanks for the head's up!