AGENDA WEST: Beware of that invoice that arrives by email – it might be a scam

The bogus invoice

An email arrives on the family computer for a small amount of money from a DIY store requesting payment. Nothing unusual in that – in a busy life invoices come in for all manner of expenses and it’s always best to pay them promptly. Except this one, writes Harry Mottram.

The invoice in question is from Screwfix for £2.49. It looked genuine enough except I hadn’t ordered or bought anything from the firm nor had anyone else in my household. But I could so easily of paid it thinking I had a memory lapse or that it was such a small amount that it wouldn’t be a problem if a friend or relative had ordered whatever it was under my name and email.

But there was something odd about it so I checked with Screwfix and they said: “We are aware of a fraudulent email sent to both customers and non-customers stating it is an invoice from Screwfix.”

The fraudsters send out hundreds of thousands of emails in the hope that if only one or two percent of those that receive them pay up they will be quids in. But it is a fraud and totally illegal and once they have hooked a victim they will target them with more scams.

Action Fraud of the Police said: “Fake invoice scams happen when fraudsters send an invoice or bill to a company, requesting payment for goods or services. The invoice might say that the due date for the payment has passed, or threaten that non-payment will affect credit rating. In fact, the invoice is fake and is for goods and services that haven’t been ordered or received. If fraud has been committed, report it to Action Fraud.”

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