Police have urged local businesses to be cautious after scammers swindled a Ballarat firm of around $30,000.
The Ballarat police advised that a local business had paid a fraudulent invoice earlier this year - and wanted to draw attention to the increasing risk of cyber crime.
The precise amount involved was not given, nor were the details of the businesses involved.
Police believe the email of the company that supplied the invoice had been hacked.
A genuine invoice had been issued earlier, which was followed by another invoice with amended bank details. A police spokesperson said businesses should double-check invoices and the destination of money transfers.
Every business should have clear processes for transferring money and a procedure for verifying requests to change bank account details that uses multiple modes of communication.Mick Keogh, ACCC Deputy Chair
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said that more than 5,800 scams were reported last year.
Businesses are thought to have lost at least $7.2 million in 2018, a rise of 53 per cent on the previous year.
The Ballarat scam is a familiar one, in which criminals impersonate legitimate businesses and request payments to their own bank accounts.
In March this year, a Nigerian scammer admitted being part of an international cyber-scamming syndicate that hacked into the email of a Ballarat gardening business and gained nearly $43,000 by fraud. They sent fake invoices to the Gannon Group, who were building a retirement village in Lucas.
Small businesses with fewer than 20 employees were cited as particularly vulnerable, making up more than three-quarters of those targeted.
In a recent media release, Mick Keogh, the deputy chair of the ACCC urged businesses to be vigilant.
"Australian businesses must protect themselves by ensuring their staff are aware of these scams so they can identify and avoid them," he said.
"Every business should have clear processes for transferring money and a procedure for verifying requests to change bank account details that uses multiple modes of communication."
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