What is it?

Invoice or mandate scams happen when criminals pose as your builder, solicitor, tradesperson or someone from a trusted organisation and provide you with new or amended bank account details. You’re then tricked into sending money to the account, which is controlled by them.

These scams often involve a criminal intercepting emails, gaining access to your supplier’s email account or pretending to be from them (also known as spoofing).

How to spot an invoice and mandate scam?

  1. You receive new bank details from an existing service provider (such as a builder, solicitor or other tradesperson) that are different to the account details you hold
  2. You receive duplicate or more frequent invoices for a product or service than the genuine service provider normally sends

Example of an invoice and mandate scam

Martin*, a 34-year-old single dad, had just had his offer accepted on a new flat after lots of conversations with his solicitor and the estate agent. He received an email from the solicitor asking him to transfer the £60,000 for his new home. A subsequent email provided the sort code and account number. Martin proceeded to transfer the money to the account details provided.

A couple of days later, Martin received an email from his solicitor requesting payment of his deposit. He sent across the email conversation with the solicitor but was told that the email wasn’t from them. Martin had just lost his £60,000 deposit.

What Martin didn’t know is that these emails weren’t from his solicitor. The criminal had “spoofed” their email address and sent Martin emails pretending to be from them.

*Case studies are based on insights from partners

If you believe you’ve fallen for a scam, contact your bank immediately on a number you know to be correct, such as the one listed on your statement, their website or on the back of your debit or credit card.

Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via actionfraud.police.uk. If you are in Scotland, please report to Police Scotland directly by calling 101 or Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000.

Always remember

Confirm service provider bank details directly with the company before payment is made

When paying someone for the first time, transfer a small amount first and check payment has been received directly by the company

Where possible, send confirmation of payment to service providers once their invoice has been paid

Always question changes in payment information. Companies rarely change their bank details

Be careful what you share on social media as criminals may target you if they know the next step is a large financial transaction

Scam warning: Criminals may purport to be from Take Five, using our official branding on websites, social media posts, literature, on the phone or by text. Take Five doesn’t provide endorsement or approval for any products/services and would never call or text anyone.