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2020 / 2021 Edition

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Purchase scam warning for SME businesses

Paragon

Specialist SME lenders Paragon urge business owners to remain vigilant against purchase scams

SPECIALIST SME lenders Paragon are urging quarries and construction plant business owners to remain vigilant against the increased threat of purchase scams amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As well as to targeting business owners at specific times of the year, scam activity tends becomes more prevalent during uncertain times when the day-to-day processes of businesses are likely to have changed.

As a result of restrictions in place due to the pandemic, many business owners have been required to purchase construction equipment without the usual visits they would make to dealers in order to carry out inspections.

Paragon say fraudsters have been taking advantage of the current situation, and purchase scams, whereby goods are paid for that do not exist or are never received, have been prevalent.

Before the coronavirus crisis took hold, last year a total of £59 million was lost to purchase scams alone and more than £114 million was lost to invoice and mandate scams, with around 72% of losses from non-personal or business accounts.

Ken McKeating, SME lending sales director at Paragon, said: ‘It’s important that business owners remain wary and only purchase items from trusted sources. These ‘big ticket’ purchases are a huge cost to construction businesses so if they are not genuine sales, the impact can be very detrimental.

‘The ongoing threat of fraud is very real too, with fraudsters using a variety of methods to target individuals, from malware scams to invoice and mandate scams. Attacks can have a devasting impact on businesses, so it is essential that they remain aware.’

Steve Bowie, head of asset management and recoveries at Paragon, added: ‘Preventing these incidents is a huge priority for our Asset Management team.

‘When a customer is purchasing new or second-hand equipment, we will always ensure that the appropriate due-diligence checks are carried out on the dealer or supplier prior to payment, to mitigate any risk of fraud, and if a customer is refinancing construction equipment, our team will carry out in-person asset valuations on the item.’

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