More often than not we are eager to please our bosses, if you got an email like this “Hi are you busy? I need you to make a BACS transfer urgently, let me know when you are free and I can send you the details, thanks.” The message seems normal enough, and you wouldn’t want to keep your bosses waiting so you jump to it, but this message has all of the signs of CEO fraud and it is one of the most common forms of business fraud, with thousands of businesses targeted every day.

Last year, Barbie manufacturer Mattel fell victim to a fraudulent email, the finance executive was fooled into thinking the message had come from the new chief executive and sent $3m (£2.3m) to a fraudulent account in China. Mattel eventually got their money back, but others are generally not as lucky, earlier this year Austrian aerospace parts maker FACC fired its president and chief financial officer after losing a huge €42m (£36m) in business email fraud.

Research carried out by invoicing company, Tungsten Network, found that invoice fraud costs UK companies £9bn a year. Procurement fraud – charging for things that were never delivered or encouraging suppliers to charge over the odds and then syphon off the difference – accounts for 88% of total UK fraud losses.

These type of fraudulent emails can generally slip through the usual spam filters, typically because they are not sent to multiple recipients and are not written in a way that appears suspicious. Look out for emails that come from domain names that differ very slightly, for example the switch of an “m” to an “n”. Ensure that your business has procedures in place for your employees so that they know what to do if they receive an unexpected request for payment. Employees should be encouraged to double check everything and not worry about questioning things that they find suspicious. If you have fallen victim to cyber-crime or are concerned about suspicious activity, contact Acton fraud UK on 0300 123 2040.