When it comes to fraud, it may seem there’s nothing new under the sun. Unfortunately, fraud perpetrators are always finding novel ways to swindle businesses. Here are some recent scams — and how your business can protect against them.
Scam: So-called social media influencers ask restaurants and bars for complimentary meals and drinks in exchange for “free” publicity on platforms such as TikTok and Instagram. Some less-ethical influencers rack up big bills and fail to post anything about the businesses. Others accept money for “exposure packages” (to place a certain number of posts on various platforms) and then never deliver.
Solution: If an influencer approaches you for a comp meal (or other free products or services), verify that the influencer has the number of followers claimed and that the person regularly publicizes local businesses on social media. Better yet, ask influencers to sign a simple contract that specifies what you agree to provide, what they promise to do in return and over what time period. Talk to your attorney about drawing up a basic influencer agreement that you can use and reuse.
Scam: You’re probably well aware of the danger of phishing schemes and have warned employees not to click links contained in suspicious emails. But what do you do if a scammer is using your company’s name, logos and other intellectual property to commit phishing fraud? For example, a perpetrator might set up a website that resembles yours and use it to infect visitors with malware.
Solution: If you learn a con artist is impersonating your company, notify customers, vendors and other stakeholders immediately via email and your social media channels. Warn of fake messages and remind them that you would never request sensitive information (such as credit card numbers) by email. Then report the incident to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (ic3.gov).
Business email compromise (BEC)
Scam: BEC fraud — in which fraudsters posing as a supervisor or vendor email employees — is a familiar scheme. But it has become more prevalent since the pandemic as greater numbers of employees started working remotely. Perpetrators ask recipients to initiate financial transactions, such as transferring money to an external account, and usually stress urgency. If employees can’t quickly verify the request with the real person (as they might be able to do if they shared office space), they sometimes go ahead and transfer money to the crooks.
Solution: Educate employees about BEC scams. Stress that they should never assume a financial transaction request is legitimate until after they’ve personally spoken (in a phone call or video chat the employee has initiated or face-to-face) with the so-called sender.
Your business is under frequent threat from fraud, and new schemes can emerge from places you might never have imagined. Contact us for help establishing policies and procedures that will help reduce fraud risk.
We highly recommend you confer with your Miller Kaplan advisor to understand your specific situation and how this may impact you.