With the UK farming industry worth £120 billion, it’s perhaps no surprise that fraudsters have hard-working farmers in their sights.
Duncan & Toplis supports over 500 agricultural clients across the East Midlands and the concern surrounding increasingly more sophisticated so-called 'phishing' scams is clear.
I recently spoke with one farm secretary who was the victim of a phishing scam that stole the business of almost £200,000. The scammers stole the maximum amount they were able to without raising any red flags with the bank - in this instance, just under £50,000 in four separate transactions.
The secretary is diligent and informed, but fraudsters had an in-depth knowledge of the farm's accounts and recent payment history, so farmers must be extra cautious - especially with the Basic Payment Scheme funding being received by farmers on 1 August and again on 1 December.
Fraudsters are likely to know of impending payments and could target agricultural businesses to gain access to the funds.
When receiving an email requesting payment for goods or services, it pays to be cautious. Were you expecting the email? If contact comes out of the blue or is out of character, be wary of their intent.
Also, when receiving any business correspondence, always check you recognise the sender. You can do this by hovering over the ‘from’ name on your emails and checking that the email address is correct. If it’s a name you recognise but a different email address, always query it at the source; contact them directly by phone or their usual email address to confirm if the email in question is genuine.
Finally, is it creating a sense of urgency?
If an email insists that “you must act on this now” or “you must reply by….” always take care to double-check the source. If in any doubt, verify the content by calling the sender or checking their website. Critically, do not click on any links in the email itself if you’re in any way suspicious. Always contact verified numbers listed on a company’s official website and never one highlighted in the letter itself.
If you suspect fraud, then your first port of call should be the Action Fraud webpage - www.actionfraud.police.uk. You can also find out more about cyber crime and ways to keep you and your business safe on the websites for Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire Police.
If you’re concerned about your financial situation or would like to know more about how you can safeguard your assets against fraudsters, get in touch with our team of experts.