Monday, July 27, 2015

Are You Prepared for Fake Bills?

It's an old scam that recurs every couple of years - fake bills.

The first one I ever saw was when I was a training manager for an Australian Government agency. It arrived in the snail mail advising me that my subscription to a training magazine had expired and that to keep it going, I had to renew.

I knew I didn't have a subscription. I checked with our accounting team whether anyone else had bought a subscription and when the answer came back negative, I trashed the subscription overdue notice.

Later, I found that receiving fake bills was a regular activity.

Our organisation's practices required that our accounting staff check all bills that arrived to ensure that:

  1. We had a relationship with the originating organisation
  2. That a payment was due and the amount correct
Additionally, if we did not have an existing relationship with a provider of goods and services, their details would not be in our financial management information system. 

Other organisations I know of became victims of the scam. They raised purchase orders and subscribed to magazines that didn't exist.

Today there is another attempt to defraud in the guise of a Telstra (Australia's Main Communications provider) Bill that looks genuine. This one, details of which are here, are sent online as are most Telstra bills.

Organisations need to have policies and practices in place to prevent lazy staff simply submitting funds to fraudsters who send these fake bills. Similarly, it doesn't make sense to click on links that may lead to virus or other malware sites.

How good are your accounting procedures in detecting fake bills and accounts. Tell us if you have been a victim of fake billing.


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