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Payment diversion fraud: know the signs

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 18 Mar 2022

As the National Economic Crime Centre launches a new awareness campaign, here’s what to look out for.

Payment diversion fraud (PDF) is a significant threat to businesses. Criminals will deliberately target key individuals within a business to make it happen. It is often highly personalised and very calculated.

PDF is also known as Business Email Compromise (BEC) or Mandate Fraud. It involves criminals impersonating others, creating or amending invoices or diverting payments to bank accounts under their own control.

This is such a threat that the National Economic Crime Centre has launched a campaign to alert businesses about payment diversion fraud, how criminals perpetrate it and the impact it has on small and medium-sized businesses.

One single error can result in a significant loss, so businesses need to be aware of the common signs of payment diversion fraud. Ask yourself:

  • Have you been asked to urgently process a large or unusual payment?
  • Have you been asked to change the bank details of an existing supplier, or to set up a new supplier?
  • Does the request contain any errors?

Remember that these scams can be very sophisticated. Emails and phone calls can be very convincing. People need to be extremely vigilant and make sure they do additional checks before making any urgent payments or changing details for suppliers.

If you receive an email or call stating a change in bank details, question its authenticity.

Protect yourself by double-checking the payment request via an additional method, using details from another source, such as text message, a phone call or in person.

If you suspect you have been a victim, contact your bank to advise them of the fraudulent activity. To report suspected fraud, contact the Action Fraud website or call 0300 123 2040. If reporting in Scotland, call 101. 

You can also download a flyer on payment diversion fraud.