Santander has issued a UK invoice scam warning to businesses after fraudulent activities led to the theft of £50m ($63.5m) in 2023.  

The bank disclosed that more than 40 of its corporate and commercial clients were targeted in the first few months of 2024, with attempts totalling more than £1.3m. 

UK Finance data, released in May 2024, indicates that a £50.3m was stolen from UK individuals and businesses through invoice and mandate scams in the past year.  

As per the data, 80% of all reported invoice and mandate scams cases in 2023 were initiated via email. 

Payment redirection scams occur when fraudsters impersonate suppliers or service providers, deceiving businesses into altering bank account details for payments.  

These requests can often appear legitimate, seemingly coming from a familiar contact like a solicitor or existing supplier. 

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Santander UK has advised its corporate clients to exercise increased vigilance when making supplier payments and to resist the pressure of hurried transactions.  

Santander UK head of fraud risk management Chris Ainsley said: “Payment redirection scams, also known more simply as ‘redirection scams’, are being used by criminals to take millions from UK businesses each year.   

“Even if it is from a third-party or supplier they know very well, businesses should take extra care in checking for legitimate contact details, and make sure to question any requests contacting your existing service provider or supplier with a contact number you’ve used for them before, to check whether it is genuine.   

“Do not use the contact details in the email or letter as this could lead to you making the checks with the fraudster themselves. If businesses think they have fallen victim to a redirection scam, they should contact their bank as soon as possible.”    

The bank’s warning follows the Financial Ombudsman Service’s revision of its forecast for the 2024/2025 FY, anticipating a spike in complaints to 210,000, with previous estimates at 181,300 cases.  

The expected uptick in grievances encompasses a range of financial issues, including those related to fraud and scams.