Oil and gas supply chain firms are being urged to be vigilant after evidence of a growing number of fraudsters trying to exploit online payment processing systems.
KPMG said it had seen a rise in the number of businesses being targeted by criminals seeking to substitute their own bank details for those of genuine companies.
The oil and gas industry, with its extensive and complex supply chain, is deemed to be particularly at risk as a variety of legal and illegal means are used to identify suppliers and their customers.
KPMG’s biannual Fraud Barometer, which tracks fraud across the UK, has revealed a substantial rise in supply chain fraud as criminals pass themselves or their products and services off as genuine.
Customers were often unaware they had been tricked by an imposter or that they had bought counterfeit goods.
According to KPMG, this type of fraud across the UK accounted for £99million in the first two quarters of 2015 – an increase of £70million on the same period last year.
Scott Grant, fraud investigations senior manager with KPMG in Aberdeen, said: “Criminals are inserting themselves into the supply chain.
“Unwitting buyers often genuinely do not realise they are dealing with an intermediary that is targeting weaknesses in company controls. This issue has been aggravated by the sheer volume of transactions conducted online.
“Criminals are inherently adaptable and have seamlessly moved with the times, adapting the way in which they target victims to take advantage of advances in technology and anonymity afforded by digital commerce.
“A prime example is the substitution of the fraudster’s bank details for those of a genuine supplier with the request coming by phone, email or letter.
“The fraudsters will often have thoroughly researched their target and be aware of who they transact with, having gleaned the information from the public record or by data theft and infiltration of client email systems.”