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Hospices urged to review financial procedures following recent fraud attacks

Author: Suzanne Stevenson
04 August 2017

Hospices are being  asked to urgently review their financial procedures and take action to educate their staff about fraud risk by Hospice UK following a spate of recent fraud attacks on hospices.

Several hospices have been targeted in recent weeks. They include Highland House Hospice in Inverness which  was scammed for around £500,000 and Dorothy House Hospice in Bath which is facing a loss of £130,000. 

Bury Hospice was also targeted in a sophisticated scam by fraudsters who stole £240,000 after ringing up and pretending to be calling from a bank.

All the hospices targeted are in the process of trying to recover the stolen funds.

The fraudsters’ methods of deception are constantly changing, but three common methods that are being used frequently are:

  • Fraudster sending an email which appears to be from the Chair / CEO and asking the finance team to make an urgent payment
  • Fraudster pretending to be one of the hospices suppliers and asking for their bank details to be updated, so that they receive any future payments from that supplier
  • Fraudster calling someone in the finance team, pretending to be from the bank (e.g. bank fraud investigations) and persuading them to disclose something they shouldn’t (e.g passwords or pin numbers) or transfer money to a “safe” account because their online security has been breached.

It is this third method which has been employed in the recent hospice fraud attacks.

Hospice UK is recommending that hospices ensure no payments can be made from their bank accounts without dual authorisation and that if staff are contacted by phone they should not disclose any confidential information or make any transfers. This is not something a bank should ever ask them to do.

Those staff who suspect they are being contacted by a fraudsters or are in any doubt are advised to terminate the call and call the bank back using a different phone, after having verified the phone number.

The Charity Finance Group has launched a new fraud prevention campaign urging charities, to take their Counter Fraud Pledge, allowing them to publically demonstrate to their supporters the steps they are taking to reduce their risk from fraud.

Once signed up for the pledge charities will be given a toolkit, which includes advice on how to protect themselves from various forms of fraud as well as a badge to display on their website.

More information is available on the Charity Finance Group website.

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