Business Beware: How to Spot and Stop the Top 5 Frauds Targeting Companies

You'd think fraudsters and scammers would run out of sneaky new schemes to siphon money from businesses, but nope! Every year they just get craftier and craftier, cooking up ever-more devious ways to swipe cash from the unsuspecting. According to the FBI's 2022 Internet Crime Report, losses from cyber fraud totaled a whopping $10 billion last year—a 49% jump from the year before!

Photo: Jcomp/freepik

With fraud on the rise, it's never been more important for companies to get educated on the latest threats. Because, let's be real, no one wants to wave goodbye to their hard-earned profits because of some hacker or scammer pulling a fast one!

In this article, we'll take a deep dive into the top five frauds businesses need to watch their backs about and how to avoid getting duped. We will shine a light on shady red flags to keep your eyes peeled for, steps to take to cover yourself, and the inside scoop on best practices for protecting your assets. Consider this your under-the-radar heads up on how fraudsters are targeting businesses lately and how to not get played. The better prepared you are, the less likely these slimy fraudsters will succeed in swiping your cash.

Payments Fraud

Payments fraud is when criminals infiltrate business systems to manipulate outgoing payments through compromised credentials, social engineering, or malicious code. For example, a fraudster may steal a CFO's login info to add fake vendors into the accounts payable system. Or they could send an email that tricks an employee into updating payment details to route to a criminal's account.

Once payments fraudsters gain access, they can reroute legitimate transactions or add unauthorized withdrawals. Warning signs include sudden changes to beneficiary or account details on file, abnormal transaction activity that doesn't match normal business operations, and suspicious payments popping up without a corresponding invoice or PO.

To detect payments fraud before funds get drained, monitor systems closely for unauthorized changes to payment data. Use payment fraud detection tools like anomaly detection to analyze transaction patterns and flag outliers. Require secondary approval and out-of-band confirmation for payments over a certain threshold. The more diligently you safeguard payment channels, the better protected your finances will be.


Phishing uses emails, calls, or messages pretending to be from a trusted source to trick recipients into handing over sensitive data. For example, a scammer may send an email impersonating the CEO asking the CFO to urgently wire funds for an acquisition. Or they could replicate a partner company's branding in messages asking for login credentials.

These communications often have telltale signs like odd senders, typos, or slight domain mismatches - but they can also be meticulously crafted to closely mimic legitimate correspondence. Training employees to spot subtle red flags in tone, urgency level, and suspicious requests or links is crucial.

You can also use technical tools like DMARC, SPF, and DKIM authentication to verify email senders. The more your staff questions unusual communications instead of blindly clicking or replying, the better protected your assets will stay.

Fake Invoices

Scammers will sometimes send fake or altered invoices to businesses from supplier names they work with regularly. For example, they may take a real invoice and change the payment routing details to direct funds to their accounts instead of the vendor.

Or they will fabricate an invoice with the supplier's logo and banking info, hoping accounts payable workers don't cross-check invoice and PO numbers closely. Once the payment is submitted, the funds route straight to the fraudsters.

Safeguard your accounts payable team by requiring diligent invoice validation before any payments. Make sure PO numbers, amounts, and beneficiary details align to legitimate vendor invoices and established accounts on file. Watch for typos, unexpected requests, or odd email senders.

Once again, you can also implement rules requiring secondary sign-off for payments over a certain threshold. The more checks to verify accuracy, the harder it is for scammers to fool your team with their counterfeit paperwork.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is one of the trickiest frauds out there, with criminals using all kinds of crafty tricks to steal employee credentials. We're talking usernames, passwords, social security numbers - anything they can get their hands on to impersonate staff.

They may use phishing emails, hack company networks, or even scam folks on social media to get the keys to the kingdom. Once they've got enough to pretend to be one of your workers, watch out! Fraudsters can then access corporate accounts, open credit cards, take out loans, and create absolute havoc.

This is a massive headache for finance and IT teams who suddenly have to deal with unauthorized activity that seems valid because it looks like a real employee did it! They'll be stuck trying to lock down the breach, undo any damage, and plug up security holes the thieves sneakily exploited.

The best way to avoid this hot mess? Be proactive about monitoring for suspicious transactions or credit inquiries that seem off. Implement strong access controls, train employees on safe data practices, and keep an eagle eye out for signs of stolen credentials being used.

The faster you can detect ID theft, the quicker you can cut off the criminals and minimize any losses or reputation dings. Staying vigilant is crucial to outsmart these sneaky fraudsters looking to wreak enterprise-sized chaos!

Investment Schemes

Criminals frequently target businesses with bogus investment opportunities promising high returns with little to no risk. Some popular scams include Ponzi schemes that use money from new investors to pay earlier backers, pyramid schemes where money flows up the recruitment chain, and pump-and-dump scams artificially inflating asset prices.

These schemes rely on fast-talking fraudsters spinning unbelievable profits to convince victims to hand over cash. In reality, the business sees little to no returns, while scammers walk away rich. Warning signs include guaranteed payouts, pressure to act quickly on an opportunity, and a mismatch between promised rewards and real risks involved.

Maintaining healthy skepticism is crucial when evaluating investment opportunities. Do thorough due diligence beyond claims of the promoter. Check registrations, research principals, review audited financials, and investigate operations before providing any capital.

The more caution you use upfront, the less likely your business will fall prey to swindlers' lies. Don't let dreams of big profits blind you from spotting sham investments that can seriously damage your finances.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully, all this inside scoop will help you steer clear of schemes and stay ahead of those sneaky scammers. Keep your eyes peeled for anything that seems sketchy or off, and be sure to verify stuff that raises red flags. Also, lean on tech like anomaly detection and email authentication to have your back.

Staying hyper-vigilant about safeguarding your systems, data, and money flow is key. But with the right fraud-fighting mindset, your business can totally shut down even the craftiest scammers in their tracks. Stick to these winning strategies and you'll be locking down your assets tight!
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