Red Flags of Invoice Scams and How to Avoid Them: A Guide for Businesses

Effective invoicing is a critical aspect of any business, as it enables the company to receive payment for the products or services it provides. Nevertheless, businesses have to be wary of invoice scams that have become more prevalent in recent times, as falling prey to these scams could be costly.
In 2017, it was reported that a Lithuanian man had defrauded Facebook and Google of $100 million in a sophisticated invoice scam. He set up a fake company and impersonated real suppliers, sending invoices and payment details to the tech giants. The scam reportedly went undetected for several years before he was caught.
This blog post delves into various types of invoice scams, red flags that indicate a potential scam, the advantages of adopting proactive measures to safeguard your business, and finally, presents four useful tips to steer clear of invoice scams.

Types of Invoice Scams

Fake Invoice Scams
Fake invoice scams rank among the most widespread kinds of invoice scams. As the name suggests, these scams involve the creation of counterfeit invoices that resemble legitimate invoices issued by a genuine vendor or supplier. The scammer then forwards the fabricated invoice to the targeted company, demanding payment.

Overpayment Scams
Another type of invoice scam is the overpayment scam. In this scheme, the scammer sends an inflated payment to the company, usually by check, and subsequently asks for a refund for the excess amount. Once the company issues the refund, the scammer cancels the initial payment, leaving the company at a loss.

Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are characterized by the sending of fraudulent emails that mimic the appearance of genuine messages from trustworthy sources, such as suppliers or vendors. The objective of such scams is to deceive the recipient into disclosing sensitive information like login credentials, bank account details, or credit card information.

Warning Signs That an Invoice Maybe a Scam

Suspicious Email Address
Check the email address of the person who sent the invoice. If the email address looks suspicious or unfamiliar, it could be a sign of a scam.

Unfamiliar Company Name
If the company name on the invoice is unfamiliar or doesn't match the name of the supplier or vendor you usually work with, it could be a sign of a scam.

Unusual Payment Request
Be wary of any payment requests that deviate from the norm. For example, if a supplier or vendor usually sends invoices via email but suddenly requests payment by phone, it could be a sign of a scam.

Scammers often try to make you feel like you need to pay right away so you don’t have time to think about it. If the invoice appears urgent or the supplier or vendor pushes for immediate payment, it could be a sign of a scam.

Poor Spelling & Grammar
Scammers often make spelling and grammar mistakes in their emails and invoices. If you notice any errors, it is a dead giveaway of a scam.

Benefits of Investing in Preventive Measures to Protect Your Business

Several benefits of employing preventive measures include:

Financial Protection
Invoice scams can be incredibly costly to a business, and investing in preventive measures can help protect your finances.

Brand Reputation
Falling victim to an invoice scam can damage your brand's reputation. By investing in preventive measures, you can protect your brand's reputation and maintain your customers' trust.

Increased Efficiency
By implementing preventive measures, you can reduce the time and resources spent dealing with invoice scams, allowing you to focus on other important aspects of your business.

Helps in Reconciling Account Receivables
Investing in preventive measures to protect your business from invoice scams can also help in reconciling accounts receivables and provide accurate cash flow visibility. This helps you maintain a healthy cash flow, as you are not paying for fraudulent invoices and are able to accurately track and manage your expenses.

4 Tips for Preventing Invoice Scams

Thankfully, businesses can take several measures to safeguard themselves against invoice scams and minimize their exposure to such fraudulent activities.
Below are some of the most critical preventive steps that businesses can adopt, including educating their employees, enforcing secure processes and protocols, leveraging technology to identify and prevent scams, and conducting routine reviews and audits.


Educate Employees About Invoice Scams
One of the most important steps in preventing invoice scams is to educate employees about the risks and how to recognize and respond to them. Employees should be trained to:

  • Be suspicious of any invoices that seem unusual or unexpected, especially if they come from a new supplier or have a different payment method than usual.
  • Verify the authenticity of invoices by contacting the supplier using a known and verified contact method.
  • Check the details of the invoice carefully, especially the payment details, to ensure they match the company's records.
  • Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments in unsolicited emails, as they may contain malware that could compromise the company's systems.
By educating employees about these risks and providing them with the tools and knowledge to recognize and respond to invoice scams, businesses can significantly reduce their risk of falling victim to fraud.


Implement Secure Processes & Procedures
Another important step is implementing security processes and procedures for handling invoices and making payments. This could include:

  • Implementing a "four-eyes" policy, where two employees must review and approve any new supplier or payment information.
  • Segregating duties so that the same employee is not responsible for creating and approving invoices or making payments.
  • Using secure channels, such as encrypted email or a secure portal, to exchange sensitive information like payment details.
  • Regularly reviewing and reconciling accounts payable records to ensure they match the company's financial records.
By implementing these types of secure processes and procedures, businesses can reduce the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive information and ensure that all payments are properly authorized and verified.


Use Technology to Detect & Prevent Fraud
Technology can also play an important role in preventing invoice scams. Some ways technology can help are:

  • Implementing anti-malware software and firewalls to protect against phishing emails and other types of cyberattacks.
  • Using intelligent financial operations platforms like that can prevent fraudulent invoices by automating the invoice verification process.
  • Enabling two-factor authentication for any payment systems to prevent unauthorized access.
By leveraging these types of technologies, businesses can automate many of the processes involved in detecting and preventing invoice scams, reducing the risk of human error and increasing the effectiveness of their fraud prevention measures.


Conduct Regular Audits & Reviews
Finally, it's important to conduct regular audits and reviews of the company's invoicing and payment processes to identify any potential weaknesses or vulnerabilities. This could include:

  • Regularly reviewing supplier information and payment details to ensure they are accurate and up-to-date.
  • Conducting periodic audits of the company's financial records to detect any discrepancies or irregularities.
  • Regularly testing the effectiveness of the company's anti-fraud measures and adjusting them as needed.
By conducting these types of regular audits and reviews, businesses can proactively identify and address potential vulnerabilities in their invoicing and payment processes, reducing the risk of falling victim to an invoice scam.


Invoice scams are a grave menace to businesses of all magnitudes. Scammers employ various stratagems, such as counterfeit invoices, and phishing scams, to deceive companies into making unlawful payments. Nevertheless, businesses can insulate themselves against such scams by being vigilant and adopting preventive measures. Conducting invoice verification, implementing two-factor authentication, educating employees, and staying abreast of the latest scams are among the many strategies that businesses can employ to prevent invoice scams and safeguard their finances and reputation.
Another thing companies can do to safeguard their finances is to utilise the services of, a FinOps platform., as an intelligent invoice processing platform, can assist businesses in combating invoice scams by automating the invoice verification process.
The platform can automatically extract data from invoices, bills, and legal documents through its superior OCR capability, and then cross-check it against the company's records to ensure that it is legitimate. It has a dispute management system that can be used to identify mismatches, keep tab on them, and deal with them to achieve faster dispute resolution.

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