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HSBC warns of rise in firms targeted by purchase scams ahead of Black Friday

HSBC has revealed a jump in UK business customers being targeted by scammers last month, as the banking giant called for industries including social media platforms to pull together to help tackle fraud ahead of Black Friday.

Purchase scams cases were 30% higher in October compared with the same month last year, the bank said.

The type of fraud occurs when criminals sell fake or non-existent products or services, often at discounted prices, to attract buyers.

Business customers of HSBC’s UK bank were fleeced by £2,960 on average last month.

It is the responsibility for all those who bring risk into the system to play a role in preventing fraud


The data comes ahead of Black Friday, where retailers are due to launch sales and shopping deals in the run-up to Christmas.

But the festive season is ripe for fraudsters and cyber criminals to target shoppers with fake offers, companies have warned.

Criminals have become increasingly sophisticated in their methods, according to HSBC.

For example, firms that make regular payments are tricked into sending money to a fraudster’s account rather than the genuine payee.

Criminals can do this by creating an email address that is almost exactly the same as the real supplier or owner’s account, with one or two letters changed, so firms do not notice the spoof.

In other cases, fraudsters hack into the email account of either a supplier or a senior member of staff, then make similar fake payment requests.

HSBC UK said it saw more of this type of scam last month than the previous three months, with the bank “working 24/7” to protect customers.

The bank urged businesses to look closely at contact details in emails and any changes to invoices which might detect fraudulent behaviour.

Meanwhile, individual customers falling victim to purchase scams lost £894 on average between July and September, with the average value per case rising to more than £900 in September, HSBC UK revealed.

The bank said there needs to be a system-wide approach to tackling fraud.

A spokeswoman for the bank said: “What is clear is that we need a ‘whole-system’ approach to tackling fraud.

“It is the responsibility for all those who bring risk into the system to play a role in preventing fraud, this includes the wider payments industry, but also telcos (telecommunications companies) who provide the numbers, internet service providers and social media firms, as well as consumers themselves.”

The UK bank’s head of fraud, David Callington, said: “We’re working 24/7 to protect all our customers, and we encourage them to also educate themselves and their staff on the tactics used by unscrupulous criminals in what is often the busiest and most important time of year for many across the UK.”

On Thursday, Virgin Money unveiled plans to spend £130 million on artificial intelligence (AI) and technology to help fight cyber crime, and protect customers from the growing risk of AI-driven fraud.

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