Over four in ten businesses in the UK are unaware of the risks posed by invoice fraud, despite these scams costing firms almost £93m in 2018, research by UK Finance has revealed.

Invoice scams take place when fraudsters trick businesses into transferring money by posing as legitimate payees. £92.7m was lost by businesses to such scams in 2018, according to UK Finance’s latest Fraud the Facts 2018 report. There were 3,280 invoice and mandate scam cases involving businesses over the year, with an average loss per case of over £28,000. £29.6m of the money lost to this type of fraud was returned to business customers.

Separate research from UK Finance’s Business Payments Survey has found that over four in ten (43%) businesses were unaware of the existence of invoice fraud. The survey of 1,500 firms across the UK found that over half (55%) of sole traders were aware of the threat of invoice fraud compared to two-thirds (68%) of small business and over four in five (84%) large businesses.

Smaller firms were also less likely to have experienced invoice fraud, with around one in twenty (6%) of sole traders having been targeted compared to one in four (26%) larger firms. Only one in seven (14%) sole traders have taken steps to protect themselves from these kinds of scams, compared to around half (47%) of small businesses and two-thirds (63%) of large firms.