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Johannesburg - An old scam in which businesses are targeted by conmen who dupe them into divulging their banking information through a message about a change of banking account details has resurfaced.

Banks are now warning businesses to be extra vigilant and be on the lookout for a business-to-business identity theft scam involving the deceitful diversion of payments.

The warning was put out this week by the SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric), a not-for-profit company established by the four major SA banks to assist the banking and cash-in-transit industries in combating organised crime.

Perpetrators of this scam are known to assume the identity of a supplier and communicate, via e-mail or a letter with fraudulent letterheads, changes in banking details to the business that is being targeted. As a fake supplier they then provide new account details of an account they have control of, presenting it as the new details of the genuine supplier. In this way, the targeted business is duped into paying money into the wrong account.

Sabric CEO Kalyani Pillay said: “This is an old scam that is resurfacing. But what is of concern is that the perpetrators make these communications seem so authentic that some businesses are still falling victim.

“Perpetrators go to the extent of ensuring that correspondence from the targeted business to verify the notification is diverted to a member of their group who will confirm the instruction to be legitimate.”

She said: “Businesses are urged not to act in haste when receiving notifications for change in banking details from their suppliers unless they are certain of the legitimacy of the notice, even when pressurised to do so.

“Always ensure that you satisfy yourself that it is indeed your supplier that you are liaising with.”

Sabric urges businesses to, where feasible, train staff members dealing with suppliers to establish a rapport with individuals in the supplier’s office in order to easily confirm these types of requests telephonically via their trusted sources.

Staff alertness and attention to detail, such as noticing slight tweaks in e-mail addresses or other contact details, is another preventative measure of these business scams.

Some measures given out by Sabric to ensure your business does not fall victim are:

l Verify every notice of changes in banking details.

l Beware of supposedly confirmatory e-mails from almost identical e-mail addresses, such as .com instead of, or addresses that differ from genuine ones by perhaps one letter.

l Be certain of the identity of the person your business is dealing with at all times.

l Do not throw away your business (and suppliers’) invoices or any communication material that contains letterheads – always shred them.

l Verify any request for information with the supplier by phone, ideally with someone you know.

l Confirm notifications for any changes using the supplier contact details you have in your data base.

l Do not publish your bank account details on the internet as this is private company information.

l Ensure that your company’s private information is not disclosed to third parties not entitled to it, or third parties whose identities cannot be verified. - The Star