Businesses Warned Against ‘Friendly Caller’ This Christmas

Michelle Remo, “Big 4″ observer
December 30, 2011 /

With professional criminals accounting for 74% of fraud against commercial business during the first half of 2011 according to KPMG’s Fraud Barometer, the firm advises extra vigilance and pre-emptive measures over Christmas and the New Year as skeleton staff levels can leave companies exposed to organised criminals.

As businesses look to cover staff absence, many finance departments may be left with limited cover and employees in charge of payments who may not normally do so. This is a prime target for organised criminals posing as suppliers and advertisers. The callers seek to extract information which is then used to swindle significant funds as they demand payment in order to close out books at the end of the year.

The two most common scams are callers claim from known suppliers seeking to extract supplier related information from accounts staff. These details are then used in a subsequent letter advising changes to bank details. Another is bogus advertising and publications, in which companies receive an invoice for sponsorship of a ‘good cause’ publication referring to a previous call and acceptance made to advertise.

To help protect businesses and charities from becoming victims to these types of fraud, KPMG is calling on organisations to take these preventative measures and brief holiday cover staff to ensure they ask for full details of callers – which in itself will often act as a deterrent; not supply data unless the caller is identified as genuine; rebuff any form of intimidation or threatening behaviour; web search and check out entities / individuals asking for sponsorship or advertising; and over the longer-term ,employers can also raise awareness of such scams and provide training for their staff on how they should handle such callers.

“Fraud should always be high on the agenda but at this time of year, even more so. With often skeleton staff in charge, companies need to make sure that they have proper handover processes in place so that people know what to do when a supplier calls. But more importantly, that they never agree to anything over a single phone call,” Alex Plavsic, Head of Fraud Services at KPMG Forensic, said.

“These are not new scams, but the growing trend shows they are working and proliferating. Organised crime aims its focus on the weakest link and exploits the trusting nature of employees who may be inexperienced or poorly supervised, especially over the festive season,” he added.


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