Reports in the media are saying that Action Fraud has found a recent increase in invoice virus emails – whereby businesses are tricked out of money or are targeted with viruses through emails claiming to include an invoice.

invoice virusWhat is an Invoice Virus?

Both Public and Private sector organisations have been the target of the bogus invoice scam. Fraudsters pretend to be genuine service or product providers and send an email purported to contain an invoice. Sometimes false instructions are included in the email asking the user to change their account details for future payments on ongoing contracts.

The most common Public and Private sector organisations that are targeted by this fraud type are:

  • Pharmaceuticals Industry
  • Airports
  • Travel related Industry
  • Universities, Schools and Colleges
  • Health Care Providers
  • Financial Services Industry
  • Food and Drink Industry
  • Councils

But invoice virus emails have arrived at all kinds of business so do not assume you are safe.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau state that losses can vary but often run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. Several of the biggest frauds have exceeded £1 million. The funds are quickly transferred outside of the UK, so recovery of the money by the police is often impossible.

Countless other businesses have been infected with malware such as viruses and malware as a result of opening links in scam invoice emails.

What does Invoice Virus Fraud look like?

The bogus invoice fraud sometimes involves a genuine invoice being intercepted. How this is done is unknown, but is possible a virus within the email system from a prior email. The account details given for payment on the invoice are then altered to make the payment go to an account that is under the Fraudster’s control.

Often the fraud will only be discovered months later when the legitimate company that sent the invoice chases up payment. Some incidents have involved emails with completely counterfeit invoices being sent as attachments or within infected file attachments.

What are the signs of an invoice virus?

Completely counterfeit invoices will usually not stand up to scrutiny. The invoices may contain logos scraped from the internet or scanned copies of an original document. The company logo may, therefore, appear to be slightly blurred.

Digitalquill – Experts in Computer Security for East Yorkshire Businesses

If you have received an email from an unfamiliar email address or think you may have been infected with an invoice virus, then we can help. For details of our Hull, IT support service and IT support for East Yorkshire businesses, call us on 01482 574402 or visit