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Best Practice To Prevent Invoice Fraud In Your Business

In today's digital world, where businesses rely on smooth online transactions, a sneaky thief lurks in the shadows: “invoice fraud”.  These cunning scams target unsuspecting companies, costing them millions.

In a time where organizations are transitioning to more digital processes, online data management and cloud-based solutions, the risk of fraud is greater than ever.

But fear not!

This guide will equip you with the knowledge to fight back, the steps and automated, digital, and trusted softwares like Tratta to incorporate in your business to eliminate invoice frauds and how to remain vigilant to protect your finances.

We'll reveal the secrets to spotting fake invoices and fortify your defenses against these financial threats. Let's secure your business and ensure smooth sailing in the ever-changing digital era.

What is Invoice Fraud?

Invoice fraud is a deceptive scheme where someone tricks businesses into paying fake invoices or redirecting payments from legitimate invoices or impersonates the legitimate suppliers. It is also known as invoice scam where they do so for their personal gains or is often done by unsuspected parties. Invoice frauds affect all- individuals, small and large scale businesses.

Importance of Protecting Businesses from Invoice Fraud

In these Mandate frauds (invoice frauds), fraudsters impersonate one of your suppliers, asking for urgent payment by telling changed details and providing new account details. 

As per stats, once a KPMG's survey revealed that audits catch fraud only 58% of the time, and when caught, businesses typically recover just 25% of the lost funds. These odds highlight the critical need for businesses to prioritize preventive measures against invoice fraud.

In the last three years, invoice fraud has increased by 75% - with companies globally getting stung. 

Such frauds come into limelight when the real suppliers ask for genuine payment. The consequences of falling victim to invoice fraud can be dire, including financial losses, damaged reputation, and legal complications. Thus it is important to protect your business from these frauds. If your business is a victim of this then-

  1. Act Fast 
  2. Report
  3. Action Fraud

But before we dive into how to combat it, let's really understand what we're up against with invoice fraud.

Understanding Invoice Fraud

Understanding Invoice Fraud

Invoice fraud is favored among fraudsters due to its high return on investment. With numerous vendors and invoices to manage, large corporations are vulnerable to fake invoices slipping through and being paid out without thorough scrutiny.

Key Points:

  • Fraudsters exploit trust in established accounts payable processes.
  • They can manipulate real invoices (changing amounts or bank details) or create entirely fake ones from seemingly trusted vendors.
  • This can lead to significant financial losses, damaged relationships, and wasted resources for the victim company.
  • Scammers use various tactics, like creating a sense of urgency or targeting well-known vendors, to make their schemes believable.

How does Invoice Fraud Occur? (Steps of Invoice Fraud Occurrence)

  1. Initial Research: Fraudsters gather information about the vendor-organization relationship, including invoice timing and payment schedules.
  2. Breaching Systems: They target the company's email or database, accessing sensitive payment and confidential data.
  3. Focused Alterations: Scammers manipulate specific invoice elements like numbers, banking details, or payment destinations, often subtly enough to avoid detection.
  4. Targeting Trust: They exploit trust by targeting invoices from familiar vendors, creating a sense of urgency for immediate payment.
  5. Urgency Creation: Scammers create a false urgency, pressuring individuals to rush through payments, potentially missing discrepancies.
  6. Evolution of Tactics: Invoice fraud continually evolves, with scammers devising new strategies, making vigilance vital for detection.

Alright, let's break down some of the tricks these fraudsters pull.

Common Invoice Fraud Types:







Duplicate/Fake Invoices


Fraudsters sneak in extra invoices for small amounts, often for common office expenses.

Compliance services, office supplies, subscriptions


Shell Companies


Fake companies are created to invoice businesses.

Disgruntled employees may use shell companies to steal money.




Fraudsters impersonate real vendors via email to trick businesses into paying fake invoices.

Fake emails mimic legitimate vendor addresses.




Vendors inflate charges on real invoices by adding fake details.

Fake employee hours or quantities may be included.


Phantom Vendors


Fraudsters create entirely fake vendors and invoices for goods or services never provided.

Invoice may look legitimate but the company doesn't exist.


Altered Invoices


Criminals modify legitimate invoices, typically changing bank account information to divert funds.

Real vendor, but bank details are changed to steal the payment.

How Business Email Compromise Works?

  1. Phishing Attacks: Fraudsters send deceptive emails pretending to be a trusted source, tricking employees into revealing sensitive information or transferring funds.
  2. Spoofing Techniques: Scammers manipulate email addresses or domains to mimic legitimate contacts, fooling recipients into believing the communication is genuine.

The Role of Internal Collusion and Corruption In Fraud

  1. Involvement: Disgruntled employees or those with access to financial systems can collaborate with external fraudsters leading to deliberate betrayal. Methods of involvement can be-some text
    1. Collusion with external parties
    2. Phantom Suppliers
    3. Manipulation of real invoices
  2. Role: Insider knowledge can help bypass security measures and make fraud schemes more believable.
  3. Impact: Collusion significantly increases the risk and potential cost of fraud for businesses.

Key Signs of an Invoice Scam : 

Unusual Sender Information

The vendor's contact information or payment address differs from previous invoices.

Email address similar to a known vendor but with a typo (e.g., vs [invalid URL removed]).

Unmatched Payment Details

The payment or bank account details don't match prior invoices or ERP system records.

Invoice requests a change to banking information you weren't previously notified about.

Invoice Discrepancies

Discrepancies exist between the invoice image, details, and your ERP data.

Quantities, billed hours, or prices listed are significantly higher than usual.

Unexpected Services

The invoice is for services you haven't purchased.

Invoice received for software you don't use.

Unusual Number Patterns

Notice an unusual frequency of round numbers in the invoice.

Invoice lists whole numbers for item prices or total amount due, unlike previous invoices.

Additional Red Flags in Invoice Frauds

While the table above focuses on invoice details, the following signs can also indicate a fraudulent email:

  1. Request for Personal Information (PII): Never share sensitive information via email.
  2. Unusual Payment Requests: Be wary of emails requesting immediate payment or changes to banking information.
  3. Suspicious Links: Don't click links in invoice emails; contact the vendor directly.
  4. Poor Grammar and Unprofessional Language: Legitimate businesses typically send professional emails.
  5. Unfamiliar Vendor: Verify the vendor before paying an invoice, especially from new companies.
  6. Urgency Tactics: Don't be pressured into immediate payment; verify the invoice's legitimacy first.
  7. Spoofed Sender Addresses: Check email addresses carefully for typos or inconsistencies with known contacts.
  8. Landing Page Links: Don't click links; manually type the official website URL to verify its authenticity.

Also Read: Steps And Best Practices For Efficient Month-End Close Process

Now that we've got a good look at the enemy, here’s our game plan to knock invoice fraud out cold.

How to Prevent Invoice Fraud?

How to Prevent Invoice Fraud?

Invoice fraud is a serious threat to businesses of all sizes.  Here are 10 key strategies you can implement to safeguard your organization from fraudulent invoices:

3-Way Matching

Benefit: Catches fake invoices

Explanation: Match invoice with purchase order and receipt.

Scrutinize Invoice Amounts

Benefit: Identify red flags

Explanation: Review invoices exceeding a threshold or suspiciously close.

Positive Work Environment

Benefit: Reduces internal fraud

Explanation: Address employee concerns and foster integrity.

Verify Vendor Information

Benefit: Confirm vendor legitimacy

Explanation: Research new vendors and double-check existing vendor information changes.

Track Invoice Activity

Benefit: Identify anomalies

Explanation: Monitor invoice patterns for sudden changes.

Fuzzy Matching Technology

Benefit: Catch near-duplicate invoices

Explanation: Use software to identify slight variations from legitimate invoices.

Automate Accounts Payable

Benefit: Reduce human error

Explanation: Automate invoice processing, data entry, and verification.

Train Staff on Fraud Awareness

Benefit: Empower staff to report fraud

Explanation: Train staff on common invoice fraud tactics and red flags.

Verify Payment Change Requests Verbally

Benefit: Confirm legitimacy of payment changes

Explanation: Verify requests to change payment information directly with the vendor through a trusted contact.

Internal Controls & GAAP Principles

Benefit: Reduce fraud risk

Explanation: Establish clear procedures, segregate duties, and follow GAAP for accurate financial reporting.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t sweat it! Technology's got our back in this fight.

The Role of AP Automation in Preventing Invoice Fraud

Accounts Payable (AP) automation goes beyond simple efficiency. By automating  tedious tasks and applying advanced logic, it significantly reduces the risk of invoice fraud. Here's how:

  • Reduced Human Error: Manual data entry is prone to mistakes. Automation minimizes errors that could leave openings for fraudsters to exploit.
  • Enhanced Accuracy and Verification: Automation ensures data consistency and reduces the likelihood of discrepancies that might slip through unnoticed during manual processing.
  • Streamlined Workflows: Automation frees up AP staff to focus on higher-level tasks like fraud investigations and vendor management.

Features and Benefits of AP Automation Solutions

Secure invoicing software like Tratta offers an additional layer of protection against fraud. These below described features, combined with other security measures, create a robust defense against invoice fraud.

  • Automated Matching: Software can automatically match invoices with purchase orders and receipts, ensuring goods or services were ordered and received before payment is authorized.
  • Vendor Verification:  Automation can verify vendor information against databases and flag inconsistencies that might indicate a fake supplier.
  • Dual Payment Controls:  This feature helps prevent duplicate payments by detecting invoices with matching details to previously paid ones.
  • Encryption:  Keeps sensitive invoice data confidential during transmission and storage, reducing the risk of interception by unauthorized parties.
  • Authentication:  Verifies the identity of users and vendors accessing the invoicing system, preventing unauthorized modifications or fraudulent activity.

By embracing automation and secure invoicing technology like Tratta, companies can significantly reduce their vulnerability to fraud and safeguard their financial well-being.

What to Do If You Fall Victim to Invoice Fraud

  1. Report the Scam:
    1. Authorities (police, state attorney general)
    2. Bank/Credit Card Company
    3. Supplier/Client
  2. Gather Evidence:
    1. Fake Invoice & Originals
    2. Communication with Fraudster
    3. Bank Statements
    4. Reporting Records & Responses
  3. Consider Legal Advice (complex cases):
    1. Understand your rights & options
    2. Negotiate with fraudster/bank
    3. File lawsuits (if needed)
    4. Handle supplier/client disputes
  4. Tighten Security:
    1. Update passwords/software/firewall
    2. Train staff on scam awareness
    3. Implement secure payment processes
  5. Communicate with Stakeholders:
    1. Inform about scam & response
    2. Update payment information etc.
    3. Reassure commitment to security

By adhering to these steps, businesses can effectively manage the aftermath of an invoice fraud incident and bolster their defenses against future threats.

Best Practices and Policies: Building a Strong Foundation

Technology is a powerful tool, but its effectiveness is amplified when supported by strong best practices and policies. 

Technology provides a powerful shield against invoice fraud. Automation extracts invoice data, verifies details, and flags suspicious activity. AI-powered tools analyze invoices for inconsistencies and unusual patterns.

Real-time monitoring allows for constant oversight and quick identification of irregularities. Secure invoicing software with encryption safeguards sensitive data.

Strong policies create a solid foundation. Regularly review and update procedures (approval workflows, vendor verification) to address vulnerabilities. Foster open communication: empower staff to report concerns and provide clear guidelines for reporting potential fraud.

Train staff to identify red flags. Finally, closely monitor invoicing activity for anomalies (unusual amounts, invoice frequency changes).

And there you have it! With the right knowledge, tools, and tactics, we can stand strong against invoice fraud. Let's wrap this up.


The fight against invoice fraud requires constant vigilance and a proactive approach.  While new technologies offer powerful tools for automating tasks, verifying data, and identifying inconsistencies, they are most effective when used in conjunction with strong policies and a culture of awareness within your organization.

By establishing clear guidelines for invoice processing, communication, and monitoring, combined with the automation and fraud detection capabilities of modern softwares like Tratta, businesses can significantly reduce their vulnerability to invoice scams and safeguard their financial well-being. 

Remember, a layered defense is the strongest defense!

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