Sussex farmers warned over Payment Diversion Fraud

Police said four people had been arrested
Police said four people had been arrested

Farmers across Sussex are being warned about a possible scam.

An alert has been sent out about the ‘Payment Diversion Fraud’.

CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) payments are expected to be paid to farmers this month and information on last year’s payments is easily obtained via the government website, allowing fraudsters to know when and how much potential targets will receive.

What is Payment Diversion Fraud?

Fraudsters who purport to be a trusted senior colleague or established customer may request that you change their direct debit, standing order or amend a bank transfer so that the payment can be diverted to a bank account which is in control of the fraudster.

Fraudsters will often make the request under the pretence of a highly sensitive or urgent transaction. Contact is made via phone, letter but most commonly via email (personal or work address) used by the organisation or employee (which has either been spoofed or hacked). The fraudster then provides bank account details into which the monies should be paid.

What can you do to prevent yourself from falling victim to Payment Diversion Fraud?

- Ensure all staff, not just finance teams are aware of this fraud.

- Always verify email payment changes to financial agreements with the organisation directly using established contact details you have on file.

If called ask the caller to give you a main switchboard number for you to be routed back to them. Alternatively, hang up and call them back using established contact details you have on file.

- Have a system in place which allows staff to properly verify contact from their CEO or senior members of staff; for example having two points of contact so that the staff can check that the instruction which they have received from their CEO is legitimate.

- Always review requests to change ‘one off’ payment requests. Check for inconsistencies or grammatical errors, such as a misspelt company name or a slightly different email address.

- Ensure computer systems are secure and that antivirus software is up to date.