According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) latest report, there was a 23 per cent spike in business losses due to scams in 2017, with victim businesses losing an average of $11,000 to scammers.
False bills were the most likely form of scams, accounting for close to a quarter of all scams, while employment and investment scams caused the most losses at nearly $1.7 million.
“Scammers don’t discriminate and businesses have what scammers want: money. They’ll use a variety of cons to swindle busy workers and it can be very devastating to a business’s bottom line,” ACCC deputy chair Dr Michael Schaper said.
“We’ve seen a worrying and dramatic jump in losses reported to us about these two scams. False billing scams are where a scammer tries to trick a business into paying fake invoices for directory listings, advertising, domain name renewals or office supplies. The scammers are very aggressive and persistent in demanding payment.
“With employment and investment scams, scammers offer services commonly used by businesses such as web page development, search engine optimisation, small business loans and business directory listings. The business signs up to what seems like a good deal but quickly discover they receive no service and that the offer was not legitimate.”
Speaking to The Bookkeeper, Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) chief executive Rochelle Park said there have been an increase in members spotting false bills and invoices, reinforcing the need for bookkeepers and business owners to have adequate internal controls.
Ms Park also urged bookkeepers to take time to do an ABN check and study invoices carefully if they were unsure of any bills.
“It is important to have really good processes that mean that all possible reasonability checks are happening to ensure the authenticity of any particular invoice that a business receives,” said Ms Park.
“It definitely impacts bookkeepers and further cements why really good internal controls are needed to protect the bookkeeper and the business owner.”
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Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.